Unthinkable: An Airline Captain's Story: Film Review
April 11 (Movies on a Mission)
Randall Paul, Dennis Fitzpatrick, Michael Biesanz, Drew Barrios
This docudrama examines the mystery behind a murder-suicide involving a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.
Even the most die-hard paranoids are likely to throw up their hands at Eric Stacey’s no-budget docudrama purporting to dig into the true events involving the real-life 2013 murder-suicide of a 9/11 conspiracy theorist and his two children. Unthinkable: An Airline Captain’s Story is so relentlessly strident in its approach that even its more compelling allegations carry all the weight of a tabloid television dramatic re-creation.
The film centers on the case of Philip Marshall, here not so subtly renamed “Marshall Philips,” a former airline pilot who once worked for the government engaging in “special activities.” Deeply suspicious about the official story concerning 9/11, especially the idea that the amateur pilots could have flown the jumbo jets without more specialized training and government help, he wrote a book, The Big Bamboozle: 9/11 and the War on Terror, outlining his theories.
The film’s early section depicts Philips (Randall Paul) as estranged from his wife and attempting to raise his two teenage children even while coping with severe back pain that requires frequent medication. Not much later all three wind up dead, along with the family dog, with Philips supposedly having murdered his children before shooting himself in the head.
Not buying the story that Philips was a despondent drug addict who took his own life is his investigative journalist friend (Dennis Fitzpatrick), whose attempts to uncover the truth attract the hostility of both the federal government (in the form of two rather bumbling agents) and a menacing cop who attempts to warn him off by breaking his taillight during a traffic stop.
Director/screenwriter Stacey attempts to lend veracity to the proceedings via audio recordings of the late Marshall as well as commentary by several political media pundits. But it all comes across as ridiculously far-fetched and overblown nonetheless, due to the utter amateurishness of the filmmaking and the largely mediocre performances. Whatever doubts the viewer may share about the true circumstances of this tragic event are quickly erased by the ineptness with which the story is dramatized.
Cast: Randall Paul, Dennis Fitzpatrick, Michael Beisanz, Drew Barrios, Jeffrey Bell Jr.
Director/screenwriter/producer/director of photography/editor: Eric Stacey
No rating, 85 minutes