The Mystery of D.B. Cooper review – a been there, done that documentary getting the inside s-cooper

November 28, 2020
M.N. Miller 0
Film, Film Reviews, HBO Max
3

Summary

Let me settle it for everyone: I am D.B. Cooper. I might as well be, everyone else seems to make the claim. Who exactly are all these posers?

3

Summary

Let me settle it for everyone: I am D.B. Cooper. I might as well be, everyone else seems to make the claim. Who exactly are all these posers?

Let me be the 10,975th person to say, I know who D.B. Cooper is. It was me. Please, contact me for documentary or television interviews. I mean, I wasn’t born yet, but it might as well be me; everyone else seems to be doing it. Who exactly are all these posers? That’s what HBO’s The Mystery of DB Cooper documentary tries to sort out. A series of self-inflicted Munchausen syndrome, with mixed results.

Anyone, including myself, who loves a good conspiracy theory knows the story of D.B. Cooper. The mysterious man took a leap of faith out of an NWA flight into the pitch black and freezing northwest sky. He also tossed out $200,000 with him (now valued around $1,285,000) when he politely requested the money from the FBI when he took over that flight for the night. It was a brazen attempt. In fact, it was the only successful, unsolved plane hijacking in aviation history. It has been almost 50 years since the November day in 1971 and the case was officially closed two years ago. So, why can’t we let it go? We love to solve the unknown or attempt to solve something that can never be proven wrong. This is, in essence, what The Mystery of D.B. Cooper is all about.

Veteran television documentary filmmaker John Dower (The Last 48 Hours of Kurt Cobain) directs HBO’s latest true crime nonfiction film. Unlike most of the projects focused on the Cooper case, his film has an interesting narrative structure. It breaks the story down with five likely suspects. Each one gets their initial look, and takes its time by ping-ponging between each one, to tell its story. He attempts to unravel that mystery of Northwest Orient Airlines flight by interviewing friends and family of the suspects, who have all passed.

Dower’s film does a thorough job examining the case, including the most likely suspects, but rarely offers information any true crime conspiracy aficionado hasn’t covered already. From there on we revisit the theory that Cooper was a man (or a woman) dressed in drag to either obtain the cash for sex reassignment surgery (or already had it). Then you have a couple relatives claiming their loved ones admitted to them, when they were kids or when knocking on death’s door, they knew or had been Cooper. It can’t be all of them, so who exactly are all these posers?

The mystery will never be solved. Unless the FBI closing the case in 2018 is some grand plan to smoke the real suspect out. The Mystery of D.B. Cooper is well made, but really offers very little new information on the case. There is nothing here you won’t get from watching a handful of Dateline, 48 Hours, or 20/20 episodes. This documentary feels like a necessary update to tie all the relevant information together, the cliff notes version. The final product is an addictive mystery for any viewer who is not familiar with the subject matter. Those who are may find the story a retelling of facts they already know, except this time, the suspect’s stories are short and concise. There is nothing new here, except an interesting structure.


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