Chris Nashawaty
December 09, 2009 AT 05:00 AM EST

Like last year’s Man on Wire, The Cove is a documentary that unspools like a white-knuckle thriller. Director Louie Psihoyos follows animal-rights crusader Richard O’Barry as he covertly films a remote lagoon in Taiji, Japan, where dolphins are secretly slaughtered. What he captures on his night-vision camera is sickening — a revolting red tide of senseless death. Obviously, the message is important. But as a movie, The Cove most sparks to life when it mimics an Ocean’s Eleven heist. The EXTRAS include ? a riveting director’s commentary. B+

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