Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Or Reset Your Avatar
My Trip to Al-Qaeda (2010)
Interesting, although unfocused
This isn't so much Alex Gibney's documentary as it is Lawrence Wright's powerpoint presentation. So I think any criticism must be leveled at Wright (which has been the case in other reviews).
The documentary attempts to draw conclusions from a large and complex political environment, and as Wright has years of personal experience here, he draws on this to make these conclusions. This is a problem, as the micro is being used to reinforce the macro. Now, I'm not saying wide conclusions cant be drawn from an isolated case, look at The Oath (2010) for an example of how to do this well. But here Wright's focus causes the viewer to have an unclear understanding of important points of his argument. I.e. the difference between an Islamist and a Jihadist is not shown well. And much depth seems missing from the actions of the West in breeding this 'humiliation'; for example the trade embargo on Iraq post the Gulf War, harming millions of innocents, is completely missing. Wright's goal is to understand the motivation and mind-set of the jihadist, and I think he fails due to his starting point being his personal experiences.
Wright's experiences however, happen to provide the most interesting parts of this documentary. The wire-tapping he encountered for example, held my attention far more than his introspective rant to finish. This documentary really should have just centered one or two of these personal aspects in isolation, or even just Wright's life. The conclusions would have been much stronger.