Frankly, if it weren’t for the fact that this movie depicts the shooting death of a sitting U.S. President through the use of CG trickery, this movie wouldn’t even rank. Presented as a kind of documentary retrospect made at some future date, DoaP tells about how on October 19th of next year, after making a speech in Chicago, President George W. Bush will be shot twice and killed, sparking nationwide mourning and a highly politicized hunt for his killer.
Director Gabriel Range uses the assassination of Bush as a jumping off point to suppose what could possibly happen given today’s modern hysterics should the president be killed. The atmosphere of this potential 2007 is one where the slow boil opposition to the war in Iraq has turned into a full-blown outrage. On the streets of Chicago, the people are out in force, like a WTO conference is in town kind of force, complete with people in gas masks and riot gear. Following the assassination, President Cheney passes the Patriot Act part III that says if you’re part of a progressive group you get surveilled within an inch of your life–civil rights be damned.
Further, the main thrust of the post-assassination story is the probable false conviction of a Muslim man, which can’t get anymore obvious if it weren’t for the identity of the actual perpetrator. Not helping Range’s case is the fact that aside from the digital trickery to show Bush getting killed and Cheney giving the eulogy, the film seems cheap. The “interviews” in the film are with the same five people and most of them are periphery players like a Washington Post reporter and a Bush speech writer, which kind of cheapens the reality factor. Anyone that’s seen JFK and sat with a scorecard to follow the enormous cast knows that there are a lot of hands in the assassination investigation plot and anyone that’s ever seen an A&E biography or CNN special knows how exhaustive they are in their coverage.
Now if you know my politics, you know that I’m about as far away from Bush on the political spectrum as one could possibly get. Having said that, I take no joy in seeing the man gunned down in effigy on screen. But having said that, this is pure stunt work: a water cooler talk generator. Even the scenes where people are talking about the President’s speech and mannerisms seem fake, like there was about a Google’s search worth of research in the picture. There’s no real insight, no real explanation why, just a very sort of Law & Order, matter-of-fact procedural.
For these reasons, any over-anxious reactionism to the film is wholly unwarranted. I’ve seen In the Line of Fire and this isn’t In the Line of Fire. This isn’t even Who Shot Mr. Burns?