30 May 2021: 'Nail Bomber: Manhunt' review: Disturbing, suspenseful documentary about far-right terrorism
Netflix's true-crime documentary Nail Bomber: Manhunt is now streaming. It traces the 1999 nail bombings in London and the ensuing aftermath. In its 72-minute-long run, we see interviews of survivors, witnesses, and investigators juxtaposed with found footage from the bombing sites. It talks about far-right terrorism and how the incompetence and ignorance of the government ruined many lives forever. Here's our review.
Plot: The plot is disturbing, uncomfortable; forces you to think
Even though the beginning is slow and somewhat confusing, once the premise is set, the documentary has all your attention. The use of found footage is very clever and restrained, but still enough to make your skin crawl when the details about the bomb injuries are explained. It also informs and makes you think about the far-right terrorism that is brushed under the rug.
Fact: Most intriguing part are the words of an undercover spy
The most intriguing part is the interview of a man, who was an undercover spy in the BNP or the British National Party. He talks about how Nazi propaganda and material on bombings, including hit lists, were circulated at party meetings, among other shocking revelations.
Interviews: Makers are able to introduce an element of suspense
Unlike many documentaries that give you a straight-up timeline and inform you about some XYZ topic, Nail Bomber takes you along on a journey of sorts. We learn how the community was harassed and their concerns about it being a racial attack were ignored to how the investigation proceeded to catch the bomber. The interviews are informative and poignant and also don't seem forced.
Production: The visual quality and production are worthy of appreciation
The difference in visual texture that comes with switching between present and past is masterfully used. It gives a very organic feel. Attention is paid to telling the story of the bombing with emphasis on the inherent racism and police incompetence. Hence all the other elements are kept minimal. The music used builds on the suspense and merges beautifully with the ambient sounds used.
Verdict: This one plays out like a suspense thriller; gets 4/5
This is one documentary that plays nothing short of a gripping suspense thriller. Some testimonies will make you think if it's fiction on account of how remorseless some perpetrators feel but rest assured it is based on true events. The plot is kept tight and nothing is dragged out and story and production are impeccable; this one's a definite must-watch. Verdict: 4/5 stars.
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