Everyone who's worked to call ABC to account for distortions in The Path to 9/11 deserves a round of applause -- but it may be that we're all overlooking another failure of the film: that it will bore people to tears.
Critic's rating: Zero stars
I once sat in a car forever waiting for my mom to come out of a grocery store. I thought that was the definition of "interminable." I had no idea "The Path to 9/11" was in my future.
This is what happens during 4 1/2 lonnnng hours of "Path." Terrorists talk about killing Americans for Allah. FBI and other security officials try to track them but fail. 9/11 happens.
You don't say.
This is the most anticlimactic, tension-free movie in the history of terrorist TV.
... "Path" is the dullest, worst-shot TV movie since ABC's disastrous "Ten Commandments" remake. It substitutes shaky handheld cameras and dumb dialogue for craftsmanship. It could not be more amateurish or poorly constructed unless someone had forgotten to light the sets.
Oh, and it's as subtle as a flying mallet:
Look, there's a security guard yawning while terrorists plant the 1993 bomb at the World Trade Center. How dare a security guard work while tired.
Oh, hey, there's an airline agent checking in a 9/11 terrorist even though he has a carry-on bag. Stupid airline agents.
Excuse us all, writer Cyrus Nowrasteh and director David L. Cunningham, for not acting like Hitler Youth in the glory days before ordinary Americans knew commercial planes could be turned into missiles.
Cheap emotions are on orange alert. Of all the people who died in the 1993 attack, who does the camera focus on? Ding-ding-ding, you are a winner if you said "a pregnant woman rubbing her belly." ...
I'll be accused of downplaying the threat of Rovian propaganda for saying this, but I wonder how much effect a TV movie like this can have on public opinion -- 23 years ago, 100 million people watched the nuclear-holocaust TV movie The Day After (on ABC, by the way), after it had been praised by the Campaign Against Nuclear War and denounced by Jerry Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly, and the National Review; less than a year later, Ronald Reagan won reelection in a huge 49-state landslide. What was the last "serious" TV movie that became the subject of water-cooler conversation after it was broadcast? Roots?
I just don't think people are going to have the attention span for this -- not in a thousand-channel/blog/iPod/Xbox/DVD/YouTube world. It was still necessary to challenge the distortions, but I suspect this will be a much weaker propaganda weapon than both its cheerleaders and its critics expect.