As it ebbs and flows from beginning to middle, patience is put to the test a few times, until it kicks into 5th gear by the midsection and doesn’t let up till the end. At times, one must dig deep to find something to hold onto for interest; sometimes, the sheer weight of factual information is overwhelming, especially when it's made of stuff you can wiki with a single click.
The stories recounted are a select few of the most controversial incidents (bus killings, covert op assassinations) or historical turning points (the assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin). And the deeper the old men delve into their experiences and thoughts, the deeper the viewer's interest goes. Together with some expertly recounted stories which sound like something plucked out of a Jason Bourne movie (a cell phone bomb...?), the most compelling aspects of the documentary are the interview subjects themselves. Watching and listening to these men, who used to hold a government position that couldn’t be more important in today’s fear-smeared way of life, with all their unique mannerisms, glances, jokes (they find time for some of those too) and afterthoughts, is nothing short of engrossing.
Regardless, there’re more than enough emotional punches packed in this doc to emphasize its importance and validity. When asked whether he thinks his film can help change some perspectives, especially because it doesn’t shy away from criticizing Shin Bet’s and Israel’s politics, Moreh responded with a short story. Three settlers came to him after a screening in Jerusalem, told him that they saw the "truth in their own voices" after watching "The Gatekeepers," and would go home that night to think about how their own ideology may be contributing to the on-going problem. If there was ever an example of how you measure the success of a documentary, that’s the one. [B+]