'Informant' Review: Brandon Darby's Undercover Patriotism Gets Worthy Close-up
Informant might be the most fair assessment of Brandon Darby's journey from far-left radical to New Media conservative one could realistically expect from the liberal film realm.
The documentary, a more balanced production than the thematically similar 2011 hit piece Better This World, lets Darby share every step of said journey in his own voice. It does feed the left's narrative that the two radicals jailed for making Molotov cocktails in connection to the 2008 RNC in Minneapolis were simply doing Darby's bidding.
It still lets the soft-spoken Darby speak--and speak--on his own behalf.
The film, available Sept. 13 theatrically as well as on Cable VOD, Xbox, Playstation, iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play and YouTube, tracks Darby's early radical days in New Orleans just after Hurricane Katrina struck. We see him gathering supplies, commandeering rescue efforts for old friends and making sure government forces didn't get in the way of their aid efforts.
Darby, like his comrades, was highly suspicious of government officials, but they managed to work around those issues to provide comfort to the primarily black residents whose lives were shattered by the storm.
As one person puts it, "he was the symbol of what radical activism could do."
A twist or three of fate leads Darby toward a rendezvous with the FBI, a series of meetings which convince him to work undercover on the group's behalf to prevent a domestic terrorism attack at the RNC. He knew the fallout from those actions, but he bravely took a path that put him in the radical left's cross hairs for the foreseeable future.
The details of Darby's decisions differ based on who is speaking at any given moment. Director Jamie Meltzer allows Darby's ex-friends, the radical circle which once called him a chum, to slam his motives and actions with alacrity. We also watch as several interviewees try to chip away at Darby's story, often in ways that feel petty.
The film picks up the left's notion that David McKay and Bradley Crowder, the men who created Molotov cocktails supposedly destined to be ignited at the RNC event, were just doing what the charismatic Darby suggested they do.
Heck, they weren't going to use those Molotov cocktails anyway.
Not only do Darby's ex-mates consider that line of defense for McKay and Crowder, so do a few journalists sprinkled into the talking head mix via some dubious pop psychology.
What's most illuminating about Informant is how it quietly pulls back the media-created curtain on today's radical class. They have no problem with violence, assuming it's doled out to appropriate targets.
"There's a time and a place for corporate property destruction ... property destruction is not violence," one anarchist says without emotion.
The film eventually reveals how much the anarchists despise their own country, and how angry they are over Darby's "traitorous" actions while leaving little venom left for those whose actions could kill innocents. Sequences capturing the radicals smashing windows, turning over a garbage container and attacking a police car are chilling suggestions that anything is possible.
There's a very good reason Darby fears for his life.
The film's final moments find Darby being feted by Tea Party groups for his actions--sequences which don't insult the grass roots movement but show it as a welcoming party to a fellow patriot. We also get a glimpse of Andrew Breitbart rallying to Darby's side once the left turned on him, a New Media warrior eager to protect someone from the bullying forces of the left.
Informant isn't designed to preach to a choir even if some of its editorial choices will be questioned by conservative audiences.