The majority of the actors in the film were not told the premise of the movie. The working title for the film was "D.O.A.P.," and the actors were not told what the plot was, except for their specific scenes. See more »
The assassination scenario outlined in the film mixes those of the Kennedy assassination in 1963 and the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981, but such an attack would be quite unlikely today as following the Reagan attempt, the United States Secret Service modified its presidential protection procedures to minimize outdoor limousine entries/exits - and never would one be attempted in any area with several high-rise buildings as depicted in the film. See more »
"Death of a President" is a truly original and intriguing 'future documentary' about an event that hasn't happened yet. It is a reflection on the events surrounding the October 2007 assassination of George W. Bush in a Chicago hotel.
That future time is portrayed with an escalation of the anti-war fervor and a growing concern over the dangers posed by North Korea.
The film flips between staged scenes, real footage & documentary style interviews. It does a fine job of seamlessly blending those pieces to create a very plausible "precreation".
It is interesting watching this film on October 9th, 2006... a day which began with news of North Korea's first nuclear test. The first twenty minutes of the film are dotted with mentions of that scenario.
There are some chilling scenes in this film... especially early on, when you get a real sense of the protesters being contained and beaten down by Chicago police in full riot gear.
After a political speech in the hotel, the President is ushered down a standard meet-and-greet rope-line. It is at this point that the film lives up to its name. Shots are fired and one of the most frenzied scenes of any film this year ensues. Bush is thrown into a waiting limo, which speeds off to the nearest hospital. The crowd at the rope line is panicked beyond recognition. The FBI launches into gear. The media machine revs its engines. And the Chicago skyline lights the night air as an eerie sense of history-in-the-making takes hold.
Later that night, newscasters announce the death of George W. Bush and the film transposes into an FBI procedural... A virtual whodunit for us viewers. It feels very much like a David Mamet plot crossed with an Oliver Stone concept. It truly is a wonderfully imaginative idea played out with great skill and cinematic artistry.
OK - The secondary question in reviewing this film is this... Is it wrong? Is it morally questionable to have such a premise be the focal point of a film? Is it in bad taste?
Well, I have always been one to follow Roger Ebert's mandate that, "It is not always what a film is about, but how it is about it." I try not to pass judgment on the subject, but on the skill of the film itself.
However, this is a very brazen subject. Even for a Bush-hating liberal like me, this approaches the line, if indeed it doesn't cross it. It comes dangerously close to going too far.
That being said, I think it stops short of that line and delivers a legitimate scenario that merits people's attention. I believe this film earns the right to touch on this subject. It is a quality film and should not be thought of as a sensationalistic attempt to shock audiences.
Back to the plot... The film analyzes the hunt for suspects and forensic evidence. It follows the investigation all the way to a murder trial. I will not detail the story any further.
What this film does brilliantly is to shade the discussion toward issues like the Patriot Act, Homeland Security futility, the right to privacy, the right to a fair trial, and the apathy of the American public to seek truth and justice. It hints at Governmental manipulation, a wag the dog mentality. It tells personal stories of civilians and soldiers and suspects and Presidential aides. This film has a tremendously broad scope considering the budget.
"Death of a President" meanders patiently toward a conclusion you will probably not expect. This is a very thoughtful film that wants us to think carefully about the consequences of future terrorism. It asks us to contemplate the futility of such a crime and the repercussions it would have on future generations. In fact, it very much condemns this scenario as the worst thing that could happen.
I was riveted by this film. It is not just a scream for attention with a daring title. It has something very important to say and it says it very eloquently. That it dramatizes the assassination of a sitting President only adds to the palpable tension and urgency of its message. I think that "Death of a President" is one of the best and most important films of 2006. Go out of your way to see it as soon as you can!