"Big Men" Movie Review: 4 Stars
by Kenneth Turan
No single resource is more essential to modern life than oil, and no film offers a more incisive look at how the enormous
wealth oil creates and subverts the morality of individuals, corporations, even entire countries than
Those who remember Boynton's excellent previous film, "Our Brand Is Crisis," an examination of political consultants working at the highest levels of Latin American elections, know this director's specialty is the kind of insider access filmmakers dream about.
In "Big Men," set in the world of oil capitalism in the West African nations of
Working only with director of photography
The connections Boynton made, especially with Kosmos CEO
Because of all the work she put in before the camera rolled, as well as all the years she put in filming, Boynton was perfectly positioned to go behind closed doors. "Big Men" is a story told as it happens, not reconstructed once all the dust is settled. The result is not only an examination of the inner workings of international capitalism but a look at the vagaries of human nature as well.
For it's not just oil that everyone is dealing with in "Big Men," it is the universality of greed.
As one interviewee puts it, "to become big is the prayer of everybody, an instinct in every human being." It's not only that everyone wants a share of this enormous money, it's also that everyone thinks that they truly deserve it. There are not heroes and villains here so much as people who are sure they are right and determined to look after their own interests.
While the discovery of oil is a new experience for
To better understand this part of the oil equation, Boynton managed to get access to the camp of one of the key militant groups, the Deadly Underdogs, interviewing ski mask-wearing leaders as inebriated followers shoot off automatic weapons in the background.
Watching all this and hoping that their interests will not be disregarded are the principals of Kosmos Energy, who remind everyone that they took huge risks with no guaranteed reward and spent hundreds of millions of dollars in preparation expenses without immediate recompense.
One of the most interesting things about "Big Men" is that the ultimate outcome of this situation is unknown. Will
The only thing that's sure is that when on-the-ground reality is conveyed with the complexity and fascination it is here, unforgettable documentaries are always the result.
No MPAA rating. Running time: 1:39.
"Big Men" Movie Trailer
Filmmaker Rachel Boynton journeys deep into the African oil industry of Ghana and Nigeria to expose the corruption surrounding it.