Collapse Review

Short Version: Whether you accept them or not, it's hard to walk away unaffected by the dire warnings of Collapse.

Screen Rant's Kofi Outlaw Reviews Collapse

Collapse is the new documentary by Chris Smith, director of the 1999 documentary American Movie.  The premise is simple: the movie is an eighty minute diatribe by Michael Ruppert, a former LAPD officer and longtime investigative journalist, who has been working for years stringing together what he believes is an imminent doomsday scenario for modern civilization.

The film consists of Smith sitting off camera, interviewing Ruppert in what looks to be a vacant warehouse, while Ruppert lays out his doomsday theory start to finish with archival news footage spliced in to evidence his claims. Along the way we learn about Ruppert himself, his personal history, belief systems etc. After painting a terrifying picture of the near future, Ruppert closes by offering us advice for navigating the coming disaster.

So why am I giving this movie 5 stars? Because as a movie, it's a gripping, intense, thought-provoking documentary/thriller  that people need to see.

The doomsday theory is this: Oil is the basis of modern civilization. It's why modern civilization was able to develop; why we were able to populate the Earth with 6 billion people; it's a component in everything from plastics to paints, to tires, all modes of transportation, the root fuel of electrical systems, digital signals, you name it.  And according to Ruppert (and like-minded theorists), as of today the entire global civilization has pushed past the point of "peak oil" - that is, the pinnacle height of worldwide oil production.

Passing the peak of worldwide oil production puts the world on a downward slope where there will never again be as much obtainable oil as there was in the past - and therefore, never again will oil be as affordable as it once was. As oil reserves continue to be depleted, and new oil wells become scarcer and harder to tap, the price of oil will inevitably increase, until the resource becomes so scarce, so unaffordable, that the global economy is thrown into chaos.

"But what about alternative energy?" You ask, "Can't we all just 'Go Green?'" Well, according to Ruppert, with the exceptions of solar and wind power (which can't yet yield enough energy in enough places), just developing an alternative energy source to run the world on would still require a huge investment of oil reserves (to power machinery, transport parts, etc.). Bottom line: modern civilization has dug itself so far into an oil-reliant lifestyle that we can't just up and switch the game plan without getting over a whole bunch of hurdles.

Once the oil situation reaches a drastic point, the world economy - a system built on the prediction, not actuality, of plentiful resources and hard currency (gold) - will begin to buckle and ultimately crack. After that civilization as we know it goes down the drain, as basic services start to shut down, the "food industry" grinds to a halt, paper money becomes valueless and violence and civil unrest erupt.

The most frightening thing of all: according to Ruppert, the collapse has already begun.

I'm giving you the ultra-simplified version of things, of course. To his credit, Ruppert does a good job throughout the film of laying his argument out in terms the average person can understand. I kid you not when I say that (whether you believe it or not) this is a hard argument to ignore. After all, Ruppert is a man with a considerable resume. His parents' work in government intelligence during WWII garnered him access to some of the America's most classified secrets, while his work as a LA cop revealed government conspiracies that altered the face of urban civilization. Ruppert is a man who has been in a position to chart the societal map from top to bottom, so to speak.

Perfect example: Ruppert, still an LAPD officer, was at the forefront of exposing a huge scandal in the late 70s, in which the CIA was implicated in a drug trafficking operation that involved the mysterious deaths of several U.S. Soldiers who may have gotten too close to the truth. After retiring from the LAPD soon after the scandal (due to intimidation, death threats and even several attempts on his live), Ruppert went into investigative journalism, with the hope of continuing to expose corruption wherever he uncovered it. Following that thread ultimately led him into the web of worldwide energy conspiracies that are the basis of his doomsday theory. (You can read more of Ruppert's personal history by going HERE.)

It would be easy to write Michael Ruppert off as a nutcase if the man didn't so clearly exhibit a God-given talent for investigative journalism: He is inquisitive, critical, thorough, hard-nosed, deductive and patient. He also comes off as pretty well-adjusted (although he might chain smoke too much) and also as someone who is, well, sane. During filming he stops at times to play with his dog, tells jokes, laughs at himself and seems to have a clear sense of how he is viewed in both positive and negative lights. He's humble, calm, and even exhibits a strong compassion for both life and people, despite his many frustrations with both. Ruppert is also clearly a smart man: he knows his blueprint down to the smallest fact - as well he should. By his own account, he's spent almost thirty years researching and piecing it all together.

That same old-school journalistic tenacity is also the one real weak point in his armor: it's fair to say that Ruppert is obsessive about his collapse theory. He truly believes he is right, that disaster is only a year or two away, and he wants you to heed his warning. He claims that he is trying his damnedest to give people a heads up before "The Titanic" goes down - and, how you ultimately react to this film will largely depend on how you view this man and his motivations for what is either prophesying or fear-mongering, depending on how you choose to view it. One thing that is undeniable, though: Ruppert is an engaging orator; I hardly dared to blink while he was talking.

I urge you to see Collapse. It's not really playing anywhere yet, but is available on Digital On Demand. The subject matter being discussed in this film far exceeds our usual debates over political or religious views, social or foreign policy, etc. At his core, Ruppert is a modern philosopher and what he's saying is that no matter your faith, race, political or economic ideology, this impending collapse affects us all. The film doesn't point fingers or bother with buzzword politics - Ruppert laughs at those petty notions. He isn't here to debate sides or agendas; he's saying that we will all suffer disaster if we continue to live by (and I'm paraphrasing this big time) 'an impossible paradigm that demands infinite growth fueled by a finite resource.'

Collapse is, in many ways, about the survival of our species - or at the very least, the survival of modern civilization. If certain changes aren't made - to our very minds and hearts as human beings - then we, and our children, are apparently screwed. Or so says Michael Ruppert.

Does that sound dramatic? Does it sound alarmist and paranoid? Maybe. But watch Collapse, let the argument collide with the facts as you see them, and then tell me that you don't sense, on some level, that Ruppert is speaking truth. Tell me that as you watched the film you didn't feel the brink of a great collapse edging just a bit closer. Tell me that I'm wrong, that this guy is a nutcase and that I've wasted your time with all this.

Trust me, at this point, I'm praying that the naysayers are right.


Our Rating:

5 out of 5 (Masterpiece)
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