'America' Review: Full-Throated Defense of U.S. in Time for the Fourth
America is like a Fourth of July sparkler held high in the night air. It's dazzling in its defense of this nation and patriotic to the core.
The docudrama, the second feature from the team behind 2016: Obama's America, finds the filmmakers expanding their scope to include the nation's past, present and future.
Sound ambitious? Oh, it is. America's willingness to take on so many liberal memes is commendable, but a sharper focus would have hit harder.
As it is, the film introduces arguments rarely acknowledged on screens big or small, reminds us of the selective outrage performed by far-left "heroes" and trumpets America as a noble idea. The latter point is delivered by a rock legend in a way that should get patriots cheering.
Dinesh D'Souza once more takes on a multitude of tasks, from co-writing and co-directing to personally guiding us on the film's journey. We start on a Revolutionary War battlefield, one in which George Washington is shot and killed. Could that shot have silenced America?
More importantly, would that please some of the far left who contend this country is a black stain on the world?
We then turn to America's most vocal critics who trot out the standard attacks. The country began with genocide and theft, and its capitalist system creates an unfair system of "haves" and have nots." We briefly see disgraced professor Ward Churchill, progressive icon Noam Chomsky and others detailing their claims against the country.
Churchill doesn't blink when he says America deserves a nuclear strike, one akin to what should have hit Germany at the start of the Second World War had the weapon been ready at the time. If you'd like to look into the black heart of the far left, there's as ugly a snap shot as you might find.
Conservatives will be squirming in their seats during this segment, but D'Souza lets his interview subjects have their say.
"We can’t just dismiss [them] with chants of liberty freedom and rah rah rah," the avuncular D'Souza cautions. He then takes each charge on in efficient fashion. The Sioux Indians who decry how America usurped their land pulled off a similar move to those who previously held it. It's part of the conquest ethic that hardly began with those early Americans. This country fought a war to abolish slavery, and the inhuman practice was hardly an American-only problem.
And so America goes, giving context to some of the country's sins in a fashion rarely heard in popular culture. Each rebuttal needs more time, more explanation, but for those weaned on Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States it will be eye opening.
The anti-American attacks speak to a bigger issue.
"Zinn wants a narrative of American shame. That’s why he leaves these stories out," D'Souza says of the broader history presented in the film. He's right, of course, and it's here where audiences will pine for more material.
The film uses historical re-enactments to add visual panache and provide content markers. While handsomely staged, the device isn't fully successful. And the shift from the robust U.S. defense dominating the film's running time to modern issues like the IRS targeting conservatives isn't integrated into the narrative until the rousing final scenes.
Perhaps the most stirring moment comes from a singer, one able to see the country both up close and far away. U2 lead singer Bono of Ireland is seen addressing a group about America the country and, more importantly, the idea.
"Great Britain's a great country, but it's not an idea ... that's how we see [America] around the world, one of the greatest ideas in human history."
America the movie is a good idea, and one long overdue. It's imperfect, much like the country itself, but its mission of defending a nation under assault from within is valiant to the core.