"The Plot Against the President"
**** Out of **** (Four Out of Four Stars)
(1AMDC/Wollman Productions - NR)
For a little over decade, John Milius was one of the most admired screenwriters in the film industry. During this stretch, he wrote or co-wrote (among others): "Dirty Harry," starring Clint Eastwood (1971); "Jeremiah Johnson," featuring Robert Redford (1972); "Jaws," with a cast that included Robert Shaw (1975); "The Wind and the Lion," starring Sean Connery and Candice Bergen (1975); "Apocalypse Now," starring Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, and Martin Sheen (1979); and — "Conan the Barbarian," with Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Earl Jones in the cast (1982).
Milius would have probably been even more in-demand had he not worn his political beliefs on his sleeve, but this was also a time when the left didn’t demonize conservative artists the way they do now.
If Milius was still working today, he’d likely not be working today.
"The Plot Against the President" [TPATP] wasn’t written or directed by Milius, but rather his daughter Amanda and it’s clear the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
In a year which overflowed with stunning feature directorial debuts, "TPATP" has signaled the arrival of a filmmaker with original thought, vision and talent to burn.
A documentary which plays out more like a traditional three-act dramatic thriller, "TPATP" unravels the entire four-year train wreck that is commonly referred to now as "The Russia Hoax."
It’s no mean feat to chronicle the entirety of a sprawling, long-running news event (that has still yet to officially die) and makes it feel fresh and new, but that’s exactly what Amanda Milius has done.
We know things will be different within seconds of the opening credits with the nighttime image of an upside-down Capitol Building on the shimmering surface of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.
It's eerie and foreboding and indicates unsettling malfeasance is on the near horizon.
Based on the book of the same name by Lee Smith, "TPATP" is an atypical documentary in that it plays out more like a dramatic, live-action espionage thriller.
Amanda Milius increases the mystery quotient by employing a non-linear narrative while the spare yet ominous score from Stephen Limbaugh heightens the sinister nature of a colossally misguided and failed coup-d’état.
Rather than starting with then-candidate Donald Trump’s iconic 2015 Trump Tower press conference announcing his intention to run for president, Amanda Milius instead dedicates the entire first act to the career of Michael Flynn.
A highly decorated Army lieutenant general, Flynn did what many ex-military icons do after leaving the service: he took a job heading one of several branches of the U.S. government agencies.
From 2012 through 2014, Flynn worked for the Obama administration as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency until he fell out of favor with the nation's 44th commander in chief.
Boiled down, Flynn identified vast quantities of waste and duplication in several military and intelligence organizations and wished to trim the fat.
So, it won’t surprise you to discover this suggestion was regarded as a bad idea by many established, swamp-rat sacred cows but it did appeal to President Trump who hired Flynn as his national security adviser in 2016.
Flynn’s tenure in his new job was less than a month which was immediately followed by a permanent nightmare most normal people wouldn’t wish upon their worst enemy.
It might appear to some that too time is spent on the Flynn imbroglio, but it provides the ideal impetus for the final hour which concentrates on a litany of conspiracies all concocted to remove President Trump from office.
The final hour features Amanda Milius interviewing well over 50 people with backgrounds in politics, defense, communication, watchdog groups, and sitting members of Congress with not a single second of it lacking in credibility.
While many of the interviewees certainly have good reasons to rant (Donald Trump, Jr. in particular), no one does.
The two individuals receiving the most screen time are Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who were both awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier this week.
The highest of many high points in the movie is the time spent with Nunes and two of his staff --- Jack Langer and Kash Patel.
These are the three men who began investing the validity of the infamous Steele Dossier and other discredited "documents" which levied wave upon wave of misinformation and falsehoods at President Trump, his family and his closest aides.
To describe what goes down in "TPATP" as ear-pinning would be an understatement.
The fact a cabal of crooked politicians, power brokers and weasels thought no one would ever ferret them out is beyond the pale.
Such amounts of gall and hubris by some of these people are beyond astounding.
It's well worth mentioning that "TPATP" is available now for free on Amazon Prime.
As you probably know, Amazon.com is owned by Jeff Bezos, now the second wealthiest man in the world. Amazon also produces original content movies, but "TPATP" is not one of them.
Tacked on to the end credits of virtually all streaming movies offered on Amazon are links to "stars" in the movie and another for trivia.
There is only one bit of trivia for this movie:
"Not a single 'fact' in this 'documentary' is verifiable."
Let that sink in.
If you don’t believe Big Tech will increase its mission to control every aspect of your life when President Trump leaves office, you are not the target demographic for this overstuffed-with-facts film.
Originally from Washington, D.C., Michael Clark has written for over 30 local and national film industry media outlets and is based in the Atlanta Top 10 media marketplace. He co-founded the Atlanta Film Critics Circle in 2017 and is a regular contributor to the Shannon Burke Show on floridamanradio.com. Over the last 25 years, Mr. Clark has written over 4,000 movie reviews and film-related articles and is one of the scant few conservative U.S. movie critics. Read Michael Clark's Reports — More Here.
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