One of the most sobering and depressing documentaries in recent memories, this film feels like a conspiracy theorist gone mad even though we understand the much larger point. But the ultimate hopelessness is more than a little grim.
Michael Ruppert has been shouting about this for decades, but no one listens.
His books sell very few copies, he's dismissed as a nutcase by critics and this film was seen by hardly anyone in America. And yet what he has to say is backed up by some pretty firm facts. His main point is that, since the world's oil reserves are essentially exhausted, there's nothing left to fuel capitalism's mythical dream of "infinite growth". As he predicted in 2005, the world financial system had no choice but to collapse. And it's never going to fully recover.
Filmmaker Smith delves deeply into his portrait of this man whose life story sounds like a thriller. The child of intelligence agents, he claims he was approached by the CIA to run drugs but refused and that he's been dogged by the system ever since. While this may seem like the perfect beginning for a paranoid madman, Ruppert is reasoned and sensible. Even though what he says isn't very far from "The end of the world is nigh!" he says it with a matter-of-fact honesty that urges us to just get on with it.
The facts and figures flow extremely freely in this film, as virtually everything the chain-smoking Ruppert says is backed up with a statistic. And everything he recounts is eerily confirmed by historical events, including the way various presidents have reacted to the fact of declining oil production, from Carter's initiatives pushing solar power to Cheney's task force to find oil reserves to supply America (in Iraq of course).
As the film progresses, Ruppert talks about alternative energy, global food production, government scandals, financial chaos and the emotional reaction we have to all of this. But this isn't a barrage of information, doom and gloom.
It's a lucid and engaging film that lets Ruppert clearly explain the issues and speak the hard truth in a way no one ever does. Whether he's a crazy alarmist or not is beside the point; it's pretty obvious that we are facing a shift in the way the world economy works. And nothing grows forever.