In 2005 the guerrilla theater troupe Imagination Liberation Front staged a play entitled I'm Going to Kill the President in Los Angeles. The piece was high-concept - to get to the show, you had to call a hot line, which provided a secret meeting place. Upon arriving at that location, you were asked, on videotape, if you were part of any law enforcement organization and then escorted to a performance space and given a program in which all of the actors’ and writers’ names had been redacted “for security reasons." I never saw the play but according to sources, it was a fun but poorly executed evening of agitprop that ended with the audience yelling out the phrase that is an actual federal offense — "I'm going to kill the President." The gimmick was all that was there and that was apparently enough.
ILF presented a sloppy sandwich with plenty of meat, so we forgive them for the plating. Lionsgate's Death of a President, written by Simon Finch and Gabriel Range, is not a poorly executed faux documentary but it is likewise not fun, nor does it live up to the promise of its gimmick.
Supposing that in October 2007, President George Walker Bush was assassinated following a speech in Chicago and using a lot of actual newsreel footage, the premise has a lot going for it. The first third of the film details the actual day of the assasssination from the points of view of Bush's speech writer, his head of security, the head of Chicago's F.B.I. branch, and a Chicago cop. The entire second third is devoted to the framing of a Muslim man living in Chicago and the discovery that, after he is convicted, the real assassin was a veteran of the War in Iraq, angry over the death of his son.
The Bush protesters are shown to be essentially toothless, angry, and without much going for them while the portrayal of Bush is reverent; comments made in cutaway confessionals indicate the violent anarchy of constitutionally protected protests and the even-handed, above-the-fray dignity of Bush. This very perspective had my liberal, Democrat/Libertarian blood boiling, but at least I cared. Once Bush is killed, the whole thing becomes a vanilla whodunit with very little stake one way or the other.