Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Rated 4.0

Writer-director Alex Gibney takes a commendable whack at sorting out the ins and outs of the Enron scandal, basing his film on the book by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, both of whom do considerable talking-head service here. Underneath all the tricks and shredded documents, what McLean, Elkind and Gibney describe is nothing more (but nothing less) than the biggest, most elaborate Ponzi scheme in history. The chief perpetrators are identified as Chairman Ken Lay; Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling; and, later, Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow, whom Lay and Skilling would make the scapegoat in a fruitless effort to save their own skins. The scenes involving the California energy crisis, with taped phone calls of Enron traders cackling over the damage their manipulation is doing, is a surefire blood-boiler.