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False Flag Review

June 7, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
False Flag
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False Flag Review  

False Flag Review

Justin Rose– Ash Whitmore
Sean Mount– Mark Whitmore
Andrew Yackel– Donny Donovan
Jennie Bushnell– Tessa Monroe
Elliott Mayer– Michael Stone
Olivia Vadnais– Stephanie Graham
Isabella Pucci– Becca Worthington
Aaron Garrett– Roland
Keith Hernandez– Kurt
Jennifer Coffman– Mrs. Worthington

Directed by Aaron Garrett
Screenplay by Aaron Garrett

Distributed by Wild Eye Releasing

Not Rated
Runtime– 80 minutes

Buy it here


False Flag, written and directed by Aaron Garrett, is a generally well-made, low budget, found footage action thriller about a mysterious government takeover of a small, Midwestern town. Bookended by scenes featuring a paranoid conspiracy theorist TV show host clearly modeled after Alex Jones (or a guy meant to be like Alex Jones), the movie works best when it focusses on the regular people stuck smack dab in the middle of the town of Madison, trying to both survive the takeover and figure out what the hell is going on. The movie kind of peters out at the end, but at a relatively quick 80 minutes, False Flag is still pretty decent.

False Flag stars Justin Rose and Sean Mount as Ash and Mark Whitmore, estranged brothers getting together in their hometown of Madison one fine day when, out of the blue, heavily armed soldiers and police roll into town and block every street. Madison’s citizens attempt to protest the incursion, but “troublemakers” are arrested quickly. In the midst of the chaos, Ash and Mark, along with YouTube TV show guy and family friend Danny Donovan (Andrew Yackel) and Mark’s girlfriend Stephanie (Olivia Vadnais) band together and try to figure out what to do next. Can they call someone for help? Should they try to record what’s happening and load it onto social media? They next run into Tessa Monroe (Jennie Bushnell), a sort of muckraking journalist who focusses on conspiracy style stories, and confused and scared child Becca Worthington (Isabella Pucci).

Now, as the group navigates the town’s escalating violence, we see flashbacks to when Ash and Mark were younger and happier, the story stops so we can check in with conspiracy themed internet show host Michael Stone (Elliott Mayer), as Stone’s show frames the movie’s story (Stone is showing the world “what really happened” in Madison via the footage from Ash, Donny, and Tessa Monroe), and the group meets two people who might actually be able to help them, two badass mechanics who are also heavily armed militia types who have been just waiting for this kind of thing to happen and they’re goddamn prepared (Kurt and Roland, as played by Keith Hernandez and the movie’s director Aaron Garrett).

The found footage/roving first person perspective gives the story an immediacy that it likely wouldn’t have had as a “traditional” movie. As the heroes confront the authorities and see, up close, what they’re up to, there’s a real sense of danger for the characters. There are times where it seems as though anything can happen and sometimes does. And seeing regular people in the town, just as scared as our heroes, try to fight back but get slammed down is hard to watch. What are they all supposed to do? What can they do? Yes, some of the crowd scenes aren’t as robust as they should be in terms of crowd size, but Garrett and company make do with what they have at hand and it all works better than it probably should.

The movie’s action beats are well done. There’s quite a bit of gunplay towards the end of the movie and it’s as good as any “regular” action movie. After seeing what writer/director Garrett manages to accomplish with his action scenes, it will be interesting to see how many more low budget action flicks try to do the first person/found footage thing. False Flag is proof that it can be done and can be done well. Will anyone else give it a shot?

The conspiracy theorist internet show framing device is the movie’s major weakness. I understand why it’s in the movie, but it doesn’t really fit in, tone wise (or, hell, quality wise) with the rest of the movie. It’s almost like Elliott Mayer, as Michael Stone, is acting in a completely different movie. The Whitmore family flashbacks don’t really fit in with the rest of the movie, either. Yes, they help establish what once was in Madison and with the Whitmore family, but would Stone and his show actually insert those moments into his presentation of what happened in Madison? I doubt it. It probably would have been best not to have the Stone show segments or the family flashbacks and just not explain why the found footage is found footage.

The ending is a bit of a letdown. There’s way too much happening at once for the ending to have any resonance. Not having the conspiracy show figure into the ending would have likely helped the ending make a little more sense.

The performances are all quite good. Justin Rose and Sean Mount have real “brothers” chemistry as Ash and Mark Whitmore. They love one another, sure, but at the same time they have serious unresolved issues that are keeping them apart. It’s sad and frustrating to see them still not like one another even in the middle of a mysterious government crackdown. Why can’t they be bros and best friends, you know?

Andrew Yackel is kind of a lovable douchebag as Donny Donovan. He comes off as exactly the kind of guy who would wonder about how well his own internet show will do in the middle of the apocalypse, and that’s exactly how he acts. His back and forth with Jennie Bushnell’s Tessa Monroe is great stuff. And Jennie Bushnell’s Tessa Monroe is how you suspect all hard charging internet journalists see themselves. They really, really believe in what they’re doing. I wouldn’t mind seeing a sort of spin-off movie where we see Monroe looking into some other big deal story. How many low budget movies do we see about journalists in the thick of a story?

Olivia Vadnais doesn’t have much to do, at least at first, as Mark’s girlfriend Stephanie, but she’s interesting anyway (she has more to do later on). And Isabella Pucci’s Becca Worthington is the kind of character you feel for no matter what. Becca is just a kid stuck in the shit all alone. That’s messed up.

And then there’s Kurt and Roland, the heavily armed badass mechanics played by Keith Hernandez and Aaron Garrett. These guys need their own spin-off, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens. Just watch them in action and ask yourself if you wouldn’t watch them in their own movie.

Again, the ending is a bit of a letdown, but False Flag is still a low budget action flick worth tracking down and checking out. It’s a found footage action flick, something you don’t see every day, and it’s well done. If you give False Flag a chance, I think you might dig it. I know I did.

See False Flag. See it, see it, see it.


So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 10.

Explosions: Several, some on screen, some off.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A conspiracy theory themed internet show, people in the woods, brothers ball busting, a street protest, an argument, a loud noise, a deserted road, more arguing, flashbang grenades, Molotov cocktails, tear gas attack, an ankle injury, public executions, conspiracy theory discussion, some really bad limping, Go Pro Camera hooey, face smashing, more tear gas hooey, school bus hooey, multiple shootouts, off screen wild flip, an attack on weird YouTube videos, and a confusing ending.

Kim Richards?: Attempted, and, who knows, it probably happens off screen, considering the situation the town finds itself in.

Gratuitous: A conspiracy theory themed internet show, found footage, a Darth Vader breathing voice parody, lovey dovey talk on cameras, mechanics with tattoos, an impromptu talk on how to get more viewers for a YouTube type show, talk of a new law defining what a domestic terrorist is laser sights, rubber bullets, public police beatings, talk of false flag attacks, potential right wing paranoia, Go Pro Camera hooey, an “unboxing video,” and a confusing ending.

Best lines: “I am not living in your basement,” “How can you be so selfish?,” “Life’s too short to hold grudges,” “Dude, that’s the chick from the news,” “Do you really think you should be filming this?,” “Hey, does anyone want some birthday muffins?,” “No one is safe,” “Do you hear that?,” “Sweetie, if you think they’re the solution you have no idea what the problem is,” “Guns fights enemies. Cameras fight tyrannies,” “Hey, we’re not alone,” “There isn’t even any sap in these trees,” “You have a government truth channel?,” “What’s her deal?,” “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?,” “Do I know you?,” “Wait, the DHS is in on this?,” “Guys, we’re out of options here,” “Where do you guys get all that sweet gear?,” “You don’t know how good you have it,” “What if they tell me to freeze?,” “You killed that guy!,” “This is probably illegal. It isn’t illegal if it’s open!,” “I don’t think this is the right time for a tune-up,” “So much for silence!,” “Let’s just hurry up and get out of here,” “God Bless America,” and “Do you know who your Dad really is?”

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
False Flag is a low budget, found footage action movie, something you don’t see every day. Outside of an unnecessary wrap around section and a confusing ending, it’s generally well made. The movie has an immediacy that “regular” action movies just don’t have, which is a major plus in its favor. I liked False Flag way more than I thought I would, and, if you give it a chance, I think you will, too. It will be interesting to see if more low budget action movies try the found footage format. False Flag shows that it can be done and done well. See False Flag. It's available now on DVD.

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False Flag, Bryan Kristopowitz