The Gatekeepers’ Israeli intelligence agents, like Avi Dichter, atone – but not sufficiently.
THE GATEKEEPERS (Dror Moreh). 97 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (March 1). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
There's an old joke that "military intelligence" is an oxymoron, and The Gatekeepers proves it through candid interviews with former heads of Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet who oversaw major incidents in the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
Director Dror Moreh cops his interrogation techniques and dressed-up re-enactments from Errol Morris's 2008 Abu Ghraib doc Standard Operating Procedure, which similarly deconstructs counterterrorism tactics and their tendency to accommodate morally compromised violence.
But apart from a by-the-numbers indictment of Shin Bet's procedural (and political) missteps, it's hard to find The Gatekeepers' narrative. More troubling, especially considering recent revelations regarding Israel's tip-top-secret ops - like the ongoing scandal involving previously unknown Israeli detainee "Prisoner X" - Moreh seems to check his own cross-examination tactics. He's content to recap (or, for anyone who has never spent an afternoon lost down the rabbit hole of the IDF's Wikipedia page, "expose") the multifarious crimes, bung-ups and whitewashes perpetrated by Shin Bet over the past half-century, stopping short of the full-bore indictment his subjects deserve.
Ultimately, the film plays like an occasion for top Israeli intelligence brass to atone, and shed crocodile tears for the errors of their ways.
It's a case of way too little way too late.