Chris Smith

USA, 2009, 82 min.

Meet Michael Ruppert, a former Los Angeles police officer turned independent reporter. During an interview with director Chris Smith, he recounts his career as a radical thinker while spelling out the crises he sees ahead that will spell the end for civilization. While other experts debate these issues in measured tones, Ruppert doesn’t hold back at sounding an alarm, or portraying an apocalyptic future.

Around the the hundredth cigarette lit by investigative journalist Michael Ruppert in Chris Smith’s latest documentary Collapse, it may occur to the viewer that Ruppert will indeed be all alone when the end finally comes. And that’s the saddest truth about Ruppert: he remains solitary in his world and his theories about the ‘inevitable’ collapse of industrial society – meaning, among other calamities, no more oil, food, cars, planes, police or postal service.

The entirety of the Collapse narrative is a defeatist bombast that hopelessly debunks alternatives to saving economic civilization. So we’re left with what feels like one drawn-out interview with LADP cop-turned-investigative journalist Michael Ruppert, who rains his prophecies of economic cataclysm into Smith’s camera for over 80 minutes. Many might agree with Ruppert about peak oil. Others can’t dispute the fact that he predicted the economic recession/depression with cunning accuracy. But after almost an hour and a half of watching Ruppert rip through topics like oil, food, water – under sharp, type-written chapter titles – one might feel rather too overloaded and underwhelmed to jump into activism mode. Therein lies the fundamental problem with Collapse – it’s just too much. Too much banter, too much of Ruppert’s gruff,  self-righteousness articulation, too many portrait shots, and far too many cigarettes.

Considering the surge of apocalyptic fever that’s been infecting movie screens as the Mayan doomsday approaches – from Hollywood fodder to the handfuls of intellectual horrorshow-docs that dissect the drained cornucopia of world resources (The Shock Doctrine, Food Inc., An Inconvenient Truth, I.O.U.S.A., The End of Suburbia, among them) – Collapse does little to convince its audiences that global crisis is indeed upon us.

The information is enticing and may have an outcome that supports the argument. But the fact that we’re still driving cars, using plastic products and consuming foreign foods doesn’t account for sleepless nights, underground bunkers and seed reproduction.

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