It’s difficult to read the word ‘collusion’ now without a certain wispy haired, white lipped man popping into your head shouting “fake news!” But this back and forth was a dominant theme of Trump’s term – see The Comey Rule – so it’s no surprise it’s etched into our brains.
Oscar winning director Alex Gibney has given us a mega two-parter, looking at how the mutual desires of Russia and some pro-Trump figureheads were met through the creation of chaos. You’ve got the big hitters: social media trolls and online hackers; questions around which of Trump’s fingers are in which Russian pies; and how the President allegedly got access to election intel via some binned business deals. There’s a lot to pack in, but this isn’t Gibney’s first rodeo: with some stylish graphs, a sardonic voiceover, and some appropriately dramatic music he avoids information overload whilst still explaining the seemingly inexplicable. The most fascinating moments come from the insights into how Russian trolls pinpointed precarious issues, using these to spread lies and skewing propaganda through memes and Tweets. Warning: you’ll also probably want to smash your phone up – even though it may well have been hacked by the Russians.
The Independent’s Mark Kennedy says the series “gives us a great blueprint of how all this happened,” commenting “too often daily revelations are overwhelming and Gibney does a superb job linking them coherently.” Variety’s Caroline Framke also praises the documentary’s “birds-eye view” of its subject, but comments that it “ends up drawing frustratingly simplistic connections between its more fascinating themes.” Adrian Horton in The Guardian posits that “Gibney ultimately directs Agents of Chaos, and the lessons of the 2016 election for 2020, back to American soil, and its crumbling institutions.”
No doubt Gibney is currently prepping a new documentary about how this one went wrong too.
First shown September 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.