(directed by Michael Heineman, 2015)
****+ (out of 5)
> Oh man, was this potent stuff! So glad the Academy took notice and nominated this for best doc. It’s a real eye-opener!
. Deep in the heart of Mexico, a village doctor leads a citizen uprising against the “Knights Templar”, a viciously violent drug cartel that has plagued Michoacán for years. Meanwhile, south of the border, an outraged and fed up American responds to the same threat by forming his own militia, to stop smugglers from seeping into the U.S. Filmmaker Matthew Heineman appears to have had unprecedented inside access to the dark inner world of the Knights Templar and the result is beyond powerful. He gets an inside look into all three worlds, and it is amazing to see all three sides of the story. The Mexican government seems totally ineffectual, and helpless to really defend its own people against these gangs of criminal thugs, it “deputizes” members of the popular resistance led by “El Doctor”, unintentionally creating a whole new gang in the process!
. CARTEL LAND is a riveting, on-the-ground look at the journeys of two modern-day vigilante groups and the unrelenting killers that join them both. It’s an amazing journey this gifted documentarian takes us on, from the opening scene of meth cookers tending a boiling pot of chemicals in the clear Mexican night, through the nightmare of criminal drug cartels conducting their horrible “business”, to the Mexican and American people’s homegrown reaction against it, and finally, back to the open air drugs cook.
. Truly great documentary filmmaking!
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