I have to admit something to you guys. I’m sort of dying from the inside out. There seems to be a real dearth of clever movies hitting the screens these days. And when I don’t get my voracious appetite sated, oh, watch out. It’s not going to be good. I tip over tables. I throw chairs. I hurl small children for distance. And that’s all before breakfast. So yeah, movie creators… please, I implore you, on behalf of our children, please start releasing more brilliant films for us to discuss!
But today, we have a great little movie for us to discuss – and it was brought to us by the ever charming Shelby, who has been a mainstay on the site here for eons now I think. Or not. I’m not even sure anymore. Anyway, thanks Shelby for bringing The Standoff at Sparrow Creek movie to our attention!! The readers don’t even know it yet, but they are super happy you did! haha.
Now, obviously, because you are here at THiNC., I can promise you that you will enjoy this closed box talkie. But not everyone does love it. Here are a couple comments about the movie that I found browsing around, here and there:
“Possibly one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen”
“There’s nothing new in The Standoff at Sparrow Creek except the title.”
“I gave 55 minutes of my time and found such boredom I realized if it did get any better I don’t care. only if my son was in it would I have put up with any more yak, yak, yak. I applaud anyone who watches more than i [sic].”
“POINTLESS Extremely flat with absolutely no high points.”
“Overly complicated ending to a pleasantly simple crime story”
“thought it would have been better than it was.”
These comments had me laughing out loud. In a day and age when entertainment equals Marvel’s Infinity Hunger Games, or something, of course most people are not going to enjoy this movie. They spend the entire movie talking for heaven’s sakes! GAHHHH! This isn’t a movie, it’s a conversation with my mother! Here, you check out this trailer, and tell me if you don’t think this movie doesn’t look cool:
Come on. That is goodness and light. Don’t even start telling me that that is “Boring.” Or “extremely flat”! Wow. I wish I had these commentator’s addresses so I could send them a postcard with my true thoughts scrawled across the back. No, no, no…that would be mean. And I am not a mean person, wink. (Oh, that wink reminds me of a story from my Uni days. I went to school in England for a year, and one of my roommates was Irish. And wow, did they wink all the time, and for everything. Tell a joke, wink. Being coy, wink. Pulling someone’s leg, wink. It was a really fantastic mannerism that just seemed to work. A few weeks later, I find myself telling a story – to an American, female. At the end of this funny story – come on, trust me, it was funny – she was laughing, and I, instinctively, winked. Well, in America, winks are a totally different thing entirely. Let’s just say that gal and I didn’t talk much after that).
Quick Standoff at Sparrow Creek Walkthrough
The setup of the movie is clever enough. Gannon, a former police officer so disenchanted with the police that he joins a militia. And on the night in question, he begins hearing gun firing ripping through the night. And as it turns out, it is a gunman, attacking a funeral for a police officer. So, it is quickly realized that, being a militia, in this particular town, on this particular day, is a really bad turn of events. Even worse, when the group realizes that one of their AR-15’s is unaccounted for, that one of the men now assembled in the warehouse, has to be the killer. So Gannon, the only ex-cop in the group, begins questioning all the members in order to figure out who did it before the cops arrive and hang them all.
Which brings us to a question, right at the outset of this bizarre setup. Who exactly are we suppose to root for here? The Militias, who achieved their most infamy and notoriety after the Oklahoma City Bombing, are squarely in the camp of horrible men, with horrible ideologies, that have led them to distrust anyone and anything. These are incubators out of which crazy men like Ted Kaczynski – the unabomber – came from. These are evil individuals that have come to the conclusion that QANON is a real thing, and that the “Deep State” is undermining our civil liberties day in and day out. (If you truly do believe in the “deep state” or QANON, I would love to do an anonymous interview with you for the site. Because wow.) So, right off the bat, I was CERTAIN that Gannon HAD to be a police triple agent or something. (Quadruple?) Because there is no way that this movie is attempting to pitch us a militia man as our protagonist. You don’t kill puppies. You don’t have nut-job militiamen as protagonists. It’s like, in the rules somewhere.
Pretty quickly, it’s realized, that Gannon isn’t going to get anyone to confess. No easy culprit that they would be able to setup as their convenient fall guy. And the show’s landscape is arduously mapped into the gameshow entitled “Catch The Lying Militia Man!”. Almost a modern version of Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Closed box. Murderer. Group of people hunting for the truth.
And after Gannon has forced to observably false confessions, the group starts to grapple with the fact that they are going to just have to decide on a patsy on their own. They realize that no one is going to admit that they really did it. But it is about that time that the group starts hearing about a second, a third, and more attacks beginning to happen throughout the United States. Militia organizations are beginning to spontaneously move against the police and start a nation-wide uprising. And soon they hear that there are over 80 different incidents flaring up. What is going on out there?!? The group is beginning to wonder if they missed some sort of Militia-Wide message or something. There is definitely something a lot bigger, or different, going on here. Gannon is definitely missing something much larger happening, and he just can’t wrap his head around it. And that is good, because I too was missing a large amount of somethings…
The Larger Problem with The Standoff at Sparrow Creek
So let’s step back a second. We have a pile of militia men fighting about how they are going to survive the day. Someone explain to me why I care whether or not they are going to figure out this particular problem?
Do you guys remember when I gave a good rating to the movie Bushwick? If you don’t, basically the movie follows two people as they encounter the results of a militia uprising of sorts. If I remember correctly, it was maybe a secession of the state of Texas? And I just loved this movie. It was tight, and small scoped, but just off the hook crazy. I adored that movie. And, oh, the hate mail I got for that one. People emailed, texted, commented, it was crazy. And why? Because by my liking this movie, I was giving momentum to these southerners, these guys with their neanderthalish ideas, and hateful perspectives towards women. And you are just going to have to trust me here – that is not me. Women’s rights? Hell ya. Smart women? Yes please. Feel free to run the world. Oh yeah, am I going to get crap for this polar opposite opinion. Do I care? No. No I do not. Why? Because I would rather fail caring too much about human beings, than fail by caring too much about capitalism. I used to be Alex P. Keaton. Considered myself a yuppie that worked on the Hill. And just decided that that is a bankrupt ideology. Do I understand why people remain in the Alex P. Keaton camp? Yes, yes I do. And that is fine, if you find yourself there. I’m just struggling at this point in this movie review to determine how we got here, and where this thing is going.
Why do I care one lick about Gannon? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Yes, I understand how protagonists and movie making works. I know that the narrator of the story is the one we will naturally congregate to. I understand that the hero, regardless of their ideological/ontological frameworks, are the ones we will sympathize with. But currently…at the halfway point of the movie, I literally stopped the movie to try and figure out why I was worried about the cops catching them and shooting them all dead there on the spot. I guess I came to the conclusion that I didn’t care about them dying, but I wanted to solve the puzzle that defined this movie. And that was simple…who shot up the funeral? It was looking less and less like any of them did it. But that’s impossible…we have a missing AR-15 after all.
The Ending of The Standoff at Sparrow Creek Explained
As the movie barrels in to the ending at the speed of sound, things move a little fast. First we learn that when Gannon was a cop, he would regularly frame neo-Nazis and white supremacists in order to bring them down. Which, we learn later was a cooked hand grenade, waiting to go off later on in the movie. If he was capable of this, would someone else be? huh.
And we learn this while Gannon is playing Russian Roulette with himself… he tells the story of his techniques while working under cover. Now, can someone please calculate the odds of his not dying while continuously adding bullets to the chamber as he goes? I didn’t notice, but did he add one bullet to the chambers all the way til 5 bullets were in the gun? I just got out a scratch pad, and if he started with 1 bullet, pulls the trigger, adds another bullet, spins it, pulls the trigger, all the way until five bullets are in the chamber, he has just over a one percent chance of survival. 1.38% to be exact. Which, makes me record scratch, and say – wait what? Is this really happening? Is this in someone’s head? Could it possibly be some weird headspace thing? But then I just let the roulette thing go, filed it away, and just moved on.
And it’s about this time, we learn that Noah, isn’t just another militia member to Gannon. He happens to also be Gannon’s brother. Hrm. And to top it all off, he is also still a police officer. Well, OK, I didn’t see that particular twist coming. But, how does that realistically change anything? Well, I mean, that means that Noah has a very vested interest in catching the murderer of the people at his co-worker’s funeral. Doesn’t he? Not only that, is he actually only in the group as an undercover cop? Seems like he very well could be. But what if this particular movie actually has nothing to do with the Militia and right-wing, militant politics? What if it is as simple as a movie about two brothers? I really think that this is what this movie is actually all about. Like when Noah said to Gannon that he just wants to stop disappointing his brother, it proves that Noah’s motivations really are the turbo drive accelerating and driving the entire movie.
So discovering Noah’s larger plan is the real skeleton key that will unlock this movie. And when Noah admits to his brother that the nation-wide uprising is fake, Gannon realizes that his brother just pulled a page out of his own playbook of yore. Because in this universe, all the police bait their suspects into doing their deepest, darkest desires. And so this Militia uprising is a concoction in order to find who the murderer of Sparrow Creek. And Noah must be working with the police to right all wrongs. So that could just mean that they are doing one wrong thing, in order to do a right. Definitely. That’s what’s happening.
We actually learn moments later that not only is the nation-wide militia uprising fake, but so was Sparrow Creek. Wait, what?! Run that by me again. OK, so, in the beginning, when Gannon was sitting outside, and he heard guns firing across the valley, that was fake. And when he heads inside, and listens on the scanner, that was fake. And then when he joins the rest of his crew, and they begin to hear “confirmed” details of the shooting, that was fake. And so when two members of the crew admit to the attack on the funeral, those were both fake…as we already know. Why? Because the attack never happened. And then when the calls start going out about attacks across the nation, those were also all fake.
A Few Thoughts on Sparrow Creek
I wish there was a predefined subgenre of films with a name that were easily invoked for films like this one. You know, movies like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, True Romance, Heat, Goodfellas. I know, what if we were to nominate them for the title of #MenInAMeatGrinder? Huh. Not subtle at all. We’ll workshop that title later. But this movie is well known to us all even if it isn’t specifically. Sparrow Creek is definitely in that same ilk as all of these other high intensity movies where men try and make it out of the blender alive, and with their morality intact, or not.
The problem with this particular movie is that this is basically a reenactment of the movie Minority Report. Remember that movie? Where people are convicted based on what they might do. Same thing is happening here. The cops are lighting a fuse on this one particular militia cell, just to see what they might do. Is this the moment they were hoping for? Let’s tell them that a cop funeral was attacked, and then hide an AR-15 from their stores. Do they crack from the inside out? Heck, let’s hang them anyway, even if they don’t. Because they own a lot of guns, and we don’t like that idea at all.
Actually, the better analogy for what this movie is all about is not Heat, or Minority Report…but rather Dark City. If you haven’t seen Dark City before then you really should avert your eyes. But in Dark City – which I highly, highly recommend – the movie is all about an alien race that is taking humans, putting them in different circumstances, and then seeing what they do. Take a boring accountant, and have them wake up in a murder scene, with blood all over them…do they murder anyone else? Do they begin a life of crime? Or do they turn themselves in, confused at what might have happened? /DarkCitySpoilers
Same goes for here. If we turn up the heat on militia men, do they run with it? Heck, did we do that to David Koresh and the Branch Davidians? This whole line of thinking becomes really really morally shaky. I mean, at the face of it, it’s at the very least entrapment. At the very least. So when the final gun shootout happened, personally, I was rooting for the militia to pwn the police that were basically there in an executioner status.
I enjoyed this mental mindjob. I enjoyed the moral nebulousness. But the light it paints our police in is a fairly negative one. I don’t know…what did you guys think about it?
Edited by, CY