Undeterred by the Los Angeles-set MILLION DOLLAR HOTEL's (1999) critical drubbing, Wim Wenders returned to LA to explore the psychic aftershocks of 9/11. September 11, 2003: Having spent much of her life abroad with her missionary parents, 20-year-old Lana (Michelle Williams) leaves her post protesting the "security" wall separating Israel from the West Bank and returns home in hopes of finding her only living relative: Her late mother's brother, troubled Vietnam vet Paul (John Diehl), who hasn't answered his sister's letters in years. After settling in at the Bread of Life Mission run by her father's old friend, Pastor Henry (Wendell Pierce) in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, Lana tracks down her uncle's sidekick, Jimmy (Richard Edson), who reluctantly surrenders Paul's cell phone number. Paul, it turns out, is a special op, not for any shadowy branch of the U.S. military, but for himself. Convinced that L.A. is infested with terrorists waiting for another opportunity to strike, Paul is determined to prevent another 9/11 by personally prowling the back streets in his tricked out surveillance van, looking for suspicious characters while rambling about sleeper cells and chemical attacks into his headset. Paul's latest target is turbaned homeless man Hassan (Shaun Toub), whom Paul spots delivering several boxes marked "Borax" to the dodgy looking Nidal Chemical Bleaching Company. Jimmy confirms Paul's suspicion that Borax can be used to mix explosives, but Paul's paranoia kicks into overdrive when Hassan is killed in a drive-by shooting, right outside the Bread of Life Mission. Hassan's death has the unexpected result of uniting Lara and Paul, but for very different reasons. Lara, open-minded perhaps to the point of naivete, wants to ensure Hassan's body is returned to his brother, who lives in the desert town of Trona. Paul, meanwhile, sees another piece of the conspiracy puzzle fall into place. Could it really be coincidence that Trona is also home to the Borax plant? Based on a story by Scott Derrickson, writer-director of the blockbuster EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE (2005), the film attempts to be both a thriller and a meditation on America at a time of profound crisis. Wenders and Derrickson offer up a few mystical tidbits the film urges us to listen to the voices of the victims, whatever that means but works best as an illustration of the way conspiracy theories serve to weave threads of order, however fantastic, during moments of incomprehensible upheaval.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: NR
- Review: Undeterred by the Los Angeles-set MILLION DOLLAR HOTEL's (1999) critical drubbing, Wim Wenders returned to LA to explore the psychic aftershocks of 9/11. September 11, 2003: Having spent much of her life abroad with her missionary parents, 20-year-old Lana… (more)