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Arts and Entertainment

LAist Movie Review: Able Danger

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Nowhere to run. Noir to hide. Photo courtesy Brian Geldin.


Have you seen the internet? Seriously, it is BLOWING UP right now. Word is, 9/11 was a conspiracy.

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Yeah, dude. I know. Inside job. Watch that Spare Coins documentary. Your brain will thank me, dude."

If you've ever had this conversation (and you probably have), or if you've ever stopped at one of roughly a billion stop signs in America, you've probably heard the bumper-sticker truth: 9/11 was an inside job. And that's exactly what the makers of indie-flick Able Danger want you to think about as you walk into, sit through, and walk out of their film. The truth, like always, is much more pedestrian: this exceptional film doesn't need the hyped up backstory to succeed. But it sure does anyway.

Able Danger gets its name from an actual data-mining program undertaken by the U.S. Government that sought to identify and classify any information related to the September 11th attacks, including the assertion that at least one government agency had failed to act in response to credible information on the background of eventual hijacker Mohammed Atta. Much of this information was subsequently destroyed by the government, leading to widespread media speculation and the ultimate catalyst for the film

Able Danger kick-starts the action in modern day Brooklyn, where Thomas Flynn (played superbly by Adam Nee) runs a left-wing coffee shop and bookstore at ground level, and prints 9/11 conspiracy theories in the basement. It is clear from the outset that this has garnered him some unwanted attention from generally unseen secret government agents. But when the most fatal of femmes enters his life with the promise of irrefutable evidence to confirm his conspiratorial beliefs, he begins down a path that quickly turns treacherous. Following the murder of his best friend (and his subsequent implication in the act), Thomas has to trust the elusive and deceptive Kasia as she dangles a hope of ultimate redemption in his frantic face. As forces converge against him, Thomas must determine once and for all what is real, and what is worth fighting - and dying - for.

Without question, Able Danger is an incredible film that mind-bendingly combines dark comedy, drama, and intrigue into a neo-noir pastiche that is all it's own. Shown almost entirely in black and white (but in an unpretentious way), the moments of stark color give the scenes a healthy dose of intensity and concentration on relevant items that may otherwise be lost. And while the story itself is engaging in it's ability to interweave contemporary plot lines with factual data and tried-and-true moments of chicanery, Able Danger is so well shot that all that good stuff has to take a back seat. Produced on an indie film budget, writer/director/editor Paul Krik seamlessly blends palettes between panoramic vistas of New York City, claustrophobic moments of up-close intensity, and heart-beating bike vs. Suburban chases that would make any one of your hipster conspiracy-theorist friends proud.
If only the street marketing team for Able Danger were as good as those for the 9/11 conspiracy theorists. After watching the film once, you would gladly have it emblazoned on every bus stop or yield sign you drive by on your daily commute to serve the corporate agenda. Then again, maybe not. After all, mother always said you can't believe everything you see taped to a street sign.

Able Danger debuts at the Laemmle Grande 4-Plex in downtown LA on October 31st.