path911I don't usually review T.V. mini-series and with good reason: they're not good.  They may be great at selling advertising but on the entertainment spectrum they rate somewhere just above a Billy Mays infomercial ("and the oil just disappears!!") and just below any movie starring Rutger Hauer.  And, bear in mind, I like Rutger Hauer movies.

But in this case I'll make an exception.  I have purposely steered clear of the hype, spin, and ridiculous framing of this "television event" in order to give you my unbiased opinion.  As someone who has actually read the "9/11 Commission Report" (okay, some of it) as well as one who loves a good movie, I found the treatment fair, essentially accurate, and not a bad way in which to tell a tragic tale that desperately needs our understanding.

About as much as you could attempt to translate a complex narrative that spans cultures and decades into a 4 hour or so movie, I give director David Cunningham and writer Cyrus Nowrasteh ("The Day Reagan Was Shot") sizable kudos for their cojones grande.  It is no small accomplishment to make sense of the events leading up to the 9/11 attacks, and for making this understandable in the context of a made for T.V. movie, they deserve credit.  The result is a finished  dramatic storyline -- perhaps a testament to the scrutiny they knew they'd be under -- but not a "documentary" of the events in blow-by-blow format.  Thank you for that.

Personally, I think that dramatic narrative is probably the perfect form for telling a story as big, tragic, profound, and epic as the 9/11 attacks: like classic epics before, we need to understand these things, and you don't learn nearly as well from boring-ass documentaries.  Simple factual adherence is important, but so is understanding events in a larger context: on 9/11 there were multiple process failures, largely centering around the timely dissemination of information and the lack of preparedness among key decision makers.  This, in "The Path" is faithfully illustrated.  Is the fact that Nowrasteh chose not to include the verbatim testimony of government staffers really grounds for totally invalidating the entire work?  Of course not.  I'll bet not even the staffers themselves have bothered to re-watch their own testimony before the 9/11 commission let along desire to subject the American people to it en masse.

By the end of "Path" you may, in fact, have a different perspective on the events that ended up shaping much of recent foreign and domestic policy.


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