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I Am DB Cooper

Year: 2022
Production Co: Gravitas Ventures
Director: TJ Regan
Writer: TJ Regan/Sharmila Sahni
Cast: Ryan Cory

You either know or you don't. There've been serious documentaries, articles and conspiracy theories aplenty about America's most famous unsolved hijacking, and while there's definitely a market for a completely fictional retelling of the story as a modern thriller, this film takes a far different approach.

Cowriter and director T J Regan, who appears in a supporting role, has made a mockumentary about it... kind of. It's hard to describe, but there are three distinct story tracks going on.

One stars Ryan Cory as the young D B Cooper, a guy who loves money, drugs, sex, women and fast living and who prepares the hijacking as a way to finance it all, falling into relationships with various women (including real life songstress Rita Coolidge) along the way while he plans and executes the heist.

The second is a straight to camera documentary of an aged yokel called Rodney Bonnenfield who's revealed himself to be the real life Cooper years after the fact in order to tell his story.

And the third centres on real life bail bondsmen brothers Carlos and Mike, who give the most naturalistic performances for the film because they're playing themselves (and who are bizarrely executive producers).

They've got wind of Bonnenfield's story and decide to check out his claims to either verify or discount them, and their method to do so is to seek out friends, associates and family members but most importantly, try and find the loot Bonnenfield claims he buried next to a lake in rural Oregon when he landed.

If you know the Cooper story, a kid fishing in the area almost a decade after the hijacking found a bundle of worn bills everyone assumed was part of the missing ransom, and it's the last clue about the mystery history's ever revealed.

If that all sounds inventive, it is. How much it holds your interest however is another matter. If you're interested in a lively retelling of the hijacking, the fictionalised scenes are fun enough.

Watching an overweight loudmouth who lives in a trailer park is a lot less interesting, and the only subplot that contains any mystery or has any kind of narrative propulsion – the no-nonsense, straight-arrow bail bondsmen on the trail of the money – ends up going nowhere in a bizarre denouement that manages to let both them and you as the viewer down.

Overall it's a much better idea than a finished product.

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