After Navalny’s relatively brief backstory (which, to Roer’s credit, challenges the politician’s earlier commitment to nationalist motives) and how he became such an enemy of Putin that the world leader refuses to even speak his name in public, Navalny spends most of his time talking about how the period of his life when the Russian government tried to kill him (passing to the main part of the film with the great phrase «And then I died»). When Navalny returned from a trip to Siberia in August 2020, his body almost collapsed – the footage of him groaning in pain is horrifying. The plane had to make an emergency landing in Omsk—without that quick fix, Alexei would have been dead—and Navalny was taken there to the hospital, where his life was decided. very clearly still in danger. When you are poisoned by the government, institutions like hospitals are not entirely safe. The raw footage of Alexei’s wife, Yulia, trying to get answers from his doctors and secure his release is one of several sections in which Navalny plays like a thriller.
With the help of some international pressure, Alexei Navalny was released two days later and taken to a hospital in Berlin, where it was confirmed that he had been injected with something called the Novichok nerve agent, a poison that is Putin’s personal favorite. . There is an amazing section in which everyone around Navalny is just dumbfounded that Putin chose Novichok to try and kill Navalny because it’s like signing his name to this assassination. The Kremlin denies this attempt, although the film pretty convincingly shows that this denial is stupid.
After it became clear that Navalny would survive the assassination attempt, Alexei and his team at the Anti-Corruption Foundation launched an investigation with the help of journalists such as Hristo Grozev. Using flight manifests and extensive research, Navalny and his team unraveled the conspiracy in such a way that Navalny became one of the most exciting films of the year. Roer and his team literally watch history unfold as an opposition leader reveals the truth about the attempt on his life. There is a phone call scene that should be on any list of the best documentary moments in recent memory. It’s like capturing lightning on film.