September Tapes

This movie was like nothing I’d seen as of lately. I really enjoyed it and actually had my wind knocked out of me a couple of times during some pretty intense scenes. The only real “issue” I had with it was the main star, a “Don Larson – Documentary Filmmaker” had a lot of machismo issues and he seemed to really have a death wish the entire time.

The movie is about a trio of guys who head to Afghanistan in July 2002 to document the hunt for Osama Bin Laden after his 9/11 attacks. In the tradition of “The Blair Witch”, they are never heard from again and their tapes are discovered.

There’s Don Larson, or “Lars” as he tells the other two to call him. Lars alludes to his personal losses on 9/11 but never really specifies exactly who and how he lost. Well, Lars is pissed off and he’s ready to track down Osama himself. He hires two other men to accompany him on this dangerous path. One of these men, Wali, is his translator and “guide” thru the civilized parts of Afghanistan. The other, Sonny, is the cameraman whose face we only see 2 or 3 times throughout the entire film.

The movie is, like Blair Witch, a handheld jumble of camera shakes and moves so if you got motion sickness during the Blair Witch it’ll be even worse here. The camerawork makes for a seriously unsettling realistic-looking film.

Many times throughout the film, there is a voice overdubbed of Lars’ personal thoughts and gripes. His various monologues are not without the occasional “cheesiness” (well, okay more often than not they are a bit hokey) but overall he comes across as a man who feels he has nothing to lose and will stop at nothing to get his interviews, to get closer to the man who was responsible for the horrendous attacks of 9/11. There is a scene where Wali is listening to Lars’ digital recorder and turns real sober to the camera and says something along the lines of “Sonny, we’ve GOTTA find Bin Laden. After listening to this message from Lars’ wife, I’m ready to go kick some ass. I’m with him to the end!” Just another example of how hokey the dialogue gets in certain parts

With his two companions, they brave several gun battles, a night in jail, an arms deal that rapidly heads south and results in near death for them, and a band of thieves with guns held to their heads.

Another thing worth mentioning is that many characters in the film make jabs at the US government’s foreign policy and the lack of zeal in finding and killing Bin Laden. One particular bounty hunter tells Wali “Your government doesn’t actually want to find Bin Laden. They have known where he is several times and have let him travel freely.” I wasn’t sure if the filmmaker was making a partisan jab or not, but overall the movie was worth the rental for sure.

If you’re looking for a movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat and you can suspend your beliefs for an hour and a half (a pasty white Chuck Bronson-wannabe would NEVER get as close to Bin Laden as the film leads you to believe he does), it’s not a bad way to kill an hour and a half.


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