The Dissident review: A gripping, alarming documentary
Ivan Radford | On 01, Apr 2021
Director: Bryan Fogel
Cast: Omar Abdulaziz
Watch The Dissident online in the UK: Amazon Prime
Bryan Fogel became one to watch with his breakout sports doping doc Icarus, which caught the world’s attention thanks to a global release on Netflix. Now, he’s back with another hot-button topic for his latest feature: a documentary dissecting the case of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
The Saudi journalists’s death was a shock in 2018, when it emerged that he had been killed in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia denied the allegations of a state-sanctioned killing, but it joined a number of similar assassinations that spelled a pattern of corruption and power – including the death of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam (whose death was the recent subject of another documentary, Assassins).
Fogel picks apart the events with the same kind of urgency that made Icarus a gripping watch. He gives us an understanding of Khashoggi’s life and work as a dissenting voice, putting that into context against the rise of Prince Mohammed bin Salman. But he also uses the transcripts released by Turkey’s leader, Erdoğan, to expose what happened to Khashoggi with disturbing detail.
The facts themselves are sinister and alarming, but they’re pieced together with the slick momentum of a political thriller and an investigative clarity that makes the role surveillance and a brutal strain of censorship can play in modern politics undeniable. From the propulsive music to the polished animations that outline how the Saudi authorities targeted Khashoggi and a younger activist, Omar Abdulaziz, online – and how they fought back – this is an accomplished, riveting piece of filmmaking.
The Dissident is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.