After working for more than 20 years as a counterterrorism informant for the FBI, ***** has a choice to make. He can stay home to raise his son or do one last high-stakes job for the Bureau. Infiltrating terror networks and befriending suspected terrorists is *****’s specialty. He is one of a growing number of covert operatives in America who straddle the murky line between preventing crimes and inventing them.
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★★★★ review by Matt Singer on Letterboxd
Provocative stuff. And even though the filmmakers never appear on camera, their perspective on these events and their bold filmmaking choices are present in every scene.
★★★½ review by C.J. on Letterboxd
I really, really hate throwing out this kind of criticism, but this could have been an incredibly powerful doc if it was short or medium length. The filmmakers get an incredible amount of access to their subjects, but their main one just isn't a particularly compelling personality due to his refusal to open up on camera. That leaves time for getting into his backstory, but it's not nearly as important or interesting as the film's "present." Later on the backstory makes more sense when it's put into the context of the film's overall message, but those first 40 minutes can be a drag to get through.
Those last 40 minutes though? Now that's just plain ol' great, immediate documentary filmmaking.
★★★★½ review by Brian St. Denis on Letterboxd
Seems to be spinning its wheels until it pivots into something else entirely, at which point I was riveted. Along with Citizenfour, a bleak but vital portrait of post-9/11 America.
★★★½ review by SnowboardJunkie on Letterboxd
This is tough to give a fair review. Taken at face value it could easily be construed as a very scary scenario. Not one I would put past any government to concoct at some level. The problem is it's extremely slanted in how it reveals it's information. Often making certain information look like stone cold facts when in fact there's no proof that it's even in the ballpark. Never the less, it's intriguing and does provoke questions. Are the makers of this tightly wound documentary coming from neutral ground or is there some sort of agenda burrowed deep with in their motives (to find the truth)? Sadly there are many in America that will do any thing to disrespect it's leaders or lean so heavy in one political climate or another they will manipulate anything until it looks like a pretzel if it will sway the undecided or entrench the like minded. However if it's all 100% grade A truth, how deep does the rabbit hole go? I hope the makers of (T)error simply want the truth and this serves as a reminder that people in positions of authority need to be held accountable just like it's citizens. In fact they are held to a higher standard.
★★★½ review by David Raposa on Letterboxd
What's just as infuriating as the things Matt Lynch notes are those snippets of news coverage concerning the arrest, & the clumsy leading language & phrasing used to disguise the flimsy pretense of that arrest. Everyone's out to make a buck, from the counterterrorism suspect engaging in petty theft, to the ex-Black Panther trying to make ends meet for the sake of his son, to the news org looking to grab a few extra eyes with some sensationalized reporting, to the government trying to justify their campaign with a few ginned-up arrests.
FYC: The insert shots of Kalifah's possessions during his initial interview, ending with that shot of the coffee grinder.
FYC2: Me watching & reading too much spy fiction & thinking the consequences of Kalifah's discoveries were going to be more explosive (instead of just being existentially devestating).
FYC3: That double-down shot of the initial Homeland text being projected onto a shot of a stack of DVDs.
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