Sarah (Brit Marling) is a former F.B.I. agent who has advanced her career by taking a job as an undercover operative for a private security-consulting firm. Her boss, Sharon (Patricia Clarkson), wants her to infiltrate "The East" — a band of anti-corporate militants whose "jams" are designed to pay back corporate executives for their crimes against humanity and the environment.
Sarah takes to the road as a vagabond and meets a member of this eco-terrorist group hopping a freight train. He takes her to their hideout in the woods. Benji (Alexander Skarsgard) is the leader of these activists who are outraged by the crimes committed by rich and powerful companies whose only concern is profit.
Sarah is kept in the dark about the details but participates in the group's first jam which consists of having the people at a party hosted by the CEO of a pharmaceutical company drink some champagne laced with the toxic antibiotic they have been selling to the public. Spearheading this jam is Doc (Tobey Kebbell), a former medical student who now suffers from seizures. He and his sister both took this pill and had their brains altered; she later died.
The East is directed by Zal Batmanglij and co-written with Brit Marling. We were reminded of The Yes Men (2003) about two wheeler dealers who take on the malfeasance and greed of corporate America in a series of pranks exposing the wrong-doing of these companies. In this intriguing film, the East's members want to bring real harm to those who have gotten away with murder in their business choices.
Sarah, a Christian, is turned off by the revenge which seems to animate Izzy (Ellen Page) and other members of the cell. Still, isolated from the hugger and mugger of the fast-paced society, she is drawn into the magical moments in this communal world where genuine caring and sharing is second nature to these activists.
It is easy to identify with Sarah and to feel the changes that she is going through. But there is nothing that prepares us for the shocking turn of events which take place at the end of this intense movie.
Special features on the DVD include "Examining the Moral Gray"; "Cause and Effect": the movement of The East; and two brothers collaboration.