Since the Muslim extremists terror attacks on the United States, of Sept. 11, 2001, there have been three dozen documentary and 50 live-action films released, which directly or indirectly depicted those events and/or the fallout from them.
Apart from "United 93" (2006) and "Zero Dark Thirty" (2012), these movies are not only supreme wastes of time, they play fast and loose with a most important aspect — the truth. The precious time wasted coupled wth distortions of what really happened only adds insult to injury.
On the eve of what will be the 20th anniversary of the most horrific of events in our lifetimes, the new five part, nearly 300 minute Netflix docuseries "Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror" from writer/director Brian Knappenberger makes up for nearly all of those past cinematic faux-pas with one of the greatest productions of its kind ever made.
At about the 30 minute mark, during the first episode — at the point where it looks as if Knappenberger is walking down an all-too-familiar recap path, he smartly switches gears and ventures back to 1979 where the lessons that should have been learned weren’t.
This is where the real history tutorial begins.
For the majority of the first two episodes, Knappenberger covers ground which has largely been ignored in those 75 other movies. During the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Army — one of the strongest on the planet — attempted to "stabilize" Afghanistan — all to no avail.
Sensing a possible win down the road and acting on the shaky "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" mindset, the U.S. armed Afghani nationals attempted to thwart the Soviets and it failed miserably.
What was worse, once the Soviets bailed, the U.S. followed suit and the vermin Taliban slipped into control without nary a casualty.
That should have been the first hint.
Say what you will about Afghan-based terrorists; they’re patient and to date, have yet to lose a "stare-down" contest.
Fast-forward to 1993 when a very real attack carried out by Muslim extremists on New York's World Trade Center went down, which in turn was largely ignored by the then-Clinton administration.
There were a few fatalities and minimal structural damage. Thanks to fleeting press coverage, the event quickly dissipated into quickly forgotten, past memory status.
With the third episode, Knappenberger begins revisiting 2001 — and does so with minimal repetition. The data is examined through a different lens and emerges familiar without lapsing into redundancy.
For what seems like a flash, the George W. Bush administration reacts with appropriate dismay, anger, sadness, and vengeance, but all in proper measure and in line with the overwhelming public sentiment — Left and Right — of the moment. Rarely had the nation been so united with a collective desire of retribution and accountability.
The fourth episode covers a great deal of ground in a manner which condenses the second term of Bush 43 and the entirety of the Obama administration with surprisingly little bias, manner of approach, or expectation of results.
By this time in history, and with this particular conflict, the endeavor appears to be morphing into a textbook example of the "Military Industrial Complex" alluded to by then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell speech to the nation of 1961.
The "Why Are We There" feeling starts taking on greater weight and regretful gravitas.
An eerie but welcomed bit of programming good luck shows up within the last portion of the fifth and final episode which includes questionable comments made just last month by the current occupant of the White House regarding what were inconsistent remarks about the full "departure" of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
What's most impressive with this docuseries is how balanced and unbiased Brian Knapperberger remained throughout. He doesn’t look at the situation with a jaundiced eye, nor does he take ideological sides.
This is as close to being impartial as is possible.
The blame of what has happened since 9/11 is not limited to any particular presidential administration or ideology. It should be levied upon the wanton continuation of the war-making machine.
For the entirety of the Trump administration, there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel. The end of "Turning Point" makes it clear that this will unlikely ever happen.
To quote the famous refrain from the band Talking Heads, "Same as it ever was."
4 out of 4 stars
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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