Those unable to see Gabriel Range’s Death of a President thanks to national theater chains such as Regal Entertainment Group and Cinemark USA refusing to show the film—due to its allegedly offensive nature—won’t be missing anything not already available on cable television or the Internet. A superficial gimmick masquerading as a serious examination of contemporary domestic terrorism efforts, this faux documentary imagines the 2007 assassination of George W., employing a phony verité guise composed of doctored archival video, staged talking-head interviews, and dramatized footage in an effort to prey upon liberal anger over the current administration. Range’s aesthetic trickery isn’t nearly as seamless or as clever as that found in Kevin Millmott’s C.S.A.: Confederate States of America, but it’s his project’s total lack of ingenuity that dooms it to irrelevance, his supposedly scary near-future scenario in which Muslims are singled out as terror suspects, the government manipulates the public through canny fear tactics, and the President (Cheney, in this case) uses a horrific attack as an excuse to pick on Syria and expand the scope of the Patriot Act. It’s a set of circumstances any unimaginative anti-Bushie could concoct, with Range positing one lame stereotype after another: the Arabs who are unfairly targeted as culprits; the F.B.I. chief who says focusing the investigation on Muslims isn’t racial profiling but “just common sense”; the struggling, discarded vet; the militant protestor; the admiring Bush colleagues; and a climactic bit of irony that’s as predictably finger-wagging preachy as it is unenlightening. Concerns that Death of a President would enthusiastically sensationalize the idea of Bush’s death prove largely unfounded, as the director treats the tense (if protracted) build-up to the fatal incident with the sober gravity of a retrospective A&E documentary. But given that the film only manages to recite familiar criticisms in order to play to its intended audience, this overly grave tone merely augments the endeavor’s triviality, making it as exasperating and demographic-baiting and manipulative as most talk shows on the Fox News Channel.
- Newmarket Films
- 93 min
- Gabriel Range
- Gabriel Range, Simon Finch
- Hend Ayoub, Brian Boland, Becky8 Ann Baker, Robert Mangiardi, Jay Patterson, Jay Whittaker, Michael Reilly Burke, James Urbaniak, Neko Parham, Seena Jon, Christian Stolte, Chavez Ravine
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