Death of a President is the controversial "documentary" that takes a looks at the events leading up to and the events following the assassination of President George W. Bush in late 2007. The documentary chronicles the violent protests leading up to the murder, and the pursuit of suspects following the incident
Of course, Death of a President isn't actually a documentary. It is a "what-if" story told in documentary format. Nonetheless, it is a very convincing and believable documentary that could be taken as truth if you were an idiot who had been living in a cave for a couple of years. From Simon Finch and Gabriel Range, Death of a President is a hair tingling account of what might happen should someone be serious enough to assassinate a President.
As most know, I am not a big Bush fan. In fact, if I were religious I would call him the Anti-Christ. That being said, the assassination of any President is pretty serious stuff, and this movie hits you good. The way every scene is handled, whether its through interviews, "stock footage" or newscasters speaking to the camera, director Range treats everything seriously, and it works. There was really not a moment where I said, "This just looks cheesy." The movie is convincing enough to be pulled off as reality.
The film is most engaging in the first half, as it leads up to the assassination. It is truly suspenseful during this parts. And even for quite a while after the movie holds profound interest. The final act isn't quite as good, as the best stuff has already happened, but there's still a lot of intriguing stuff that the filmmakers throw at you. Not surprisingly, the movie goes the direction of political cover-up, just a little bit, as a Muslim man is blamed despite evidence that suggests he is not the killer. Personally, nothing that the filmmakers come up with seems outside the realm of possibility, especially given the current administration.
Death of a President does have a liberal slant, yes, but it is still relatively bipartisan in its storytelling. A lot of the things that occur after the assassination could easily take place regardless of the political party in power.
Some critics complained that using Bush as the President here rather than some fictional character was a publicity ploy and downright bad taste, but I have to disagree. Had this movie made up a President, no one would have watched it, and no one would have debated it. Furthermore, regardless of how you feel about Bush, if you are an American, Death of a President is very effective in evoking emotion. How would you truly act if the President were killed? And is killing a President you don't like really beneficial to your cause? I don't think Americans would be cheering in the streets regardless of their viewpoints.
Death of a President is not a perfect movie, but it is well done, believable and at times quite emotional. This film is a great little documentary, despite the fact that everything in it is fake.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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