Based on Lee Smith’s book of the same name, “The Plot Against The President” tells the incredible story of the Russian collusion hoax in documentary form. It’s pro-Trump, but also a work of journalistic import given the critical contributions from witnesses and stakeholders who recall the investigation in detail. What’s more, “The Plot Against The President” is stylish, making a compelling case with the benefit of Hollywood flair, rare for overtly conservative productions.
That’s easier to do when your director is a USC film school graduate and the daughter of Hollywood royalty. Such is the case with Amanda Milius, whose father is legendary writer and director John Milius, the man behind “Dirty Harry,” “Red Dawn,” and much more. “I have the unique position to be not a political person that decided to make a movie, but I’m a film person that happened to land in politics for a period of time,” she told The Federalist in a Monday interview.
It shows. In Milius’s hands, “The Plot Against The President” is an artful recounting of the collusion hoax, with a compelling and deliberate aesthetic that elevates the content. Milius describe the look as “D.C. Noir,” noting that she applied techniques more commonly used in scripted features to bring “Plot” to life, shooting the “bureaucratic nightmare vibe” of Washington by capturing those “monstrous buildings” that “feel soulless and empty.”
This is the backdrop against which Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, Kash Patel, Richard Grenell, KT McFarland, Sidney Powell, Michal Anton, and Lee Smith himself walk viewers through the long, twisted, sordid affair. “Plot Against The President” does a good job zooming in on key details while also hovering at 30,000 feet to keep the story contextualized in a broader perspective, which is perhaps the biggest challenge to understanding the full scandal. Milius does this by dipping deeper into the backgrounds of people like James Comey and Michael Flynn to build an argument about motives and character.
The opportunity to use Smith’s book as the the basis for the film, which was financed by private investors, is “what really made” Milius want to do it, she said. “Lee had the insight to tell the story through characters as opposed to documents, and that’s something you could actually make a movie about.”
“You can’t really make a movie about court dates and documents and hearings, but you can make a movie about people,” Milius emphasized.
To that point, the documentary could have cut out contributions from outside journalists and pundits to key in even more on Nunes and his team, but it’s extremely useful to be steered through the story by Jordan, Patel, Jack Langer and the California congressman himself. Without a narrator, Milius relies entirely on interviewees to drive the narrative, which works well when they’re directly involved.
Milius and her crew put the entire film together in the short six months between her departure from Foggy Bottom and its release this month. That means it was also made completely during the pandemic, which presented unique logistical challenges, especially when it came to travel, but also helped them capture an apt “eerie,” “post-apocalyptic,” “spy-thriller vibe.”
The collusion hoax is an immensely complicated story to tell, and “Plot Against The President” handles it well, getting on-the-record recollections from the people who blew it wide open and are most intimately familiar with the corrupt conduct of Democrats like Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and leak-thirsty journalists with anti-Trump bias. It also manages to do all of that while also keeping the big picture in focus.
Milius makes no effort to hide her bias. The filmmaker, who describes herself as a “Trump Republican,” completed a three-year stint at the State Department in March. “I thought I was just going to do film, and then kind of keep my politics to myself. But then in 2015 it just became too difficult,” she remembers. “So by the time 2016 rolled around I was so sick of it, not being able to talk about politics, which I was becoming obsessed with.” Milius volunteered for the Trump campaign and “just never left.”
Growing up as the daughter of a “well-known conservative filmmaker,” Milius explains, “I always knew that there was some tension between his politics and Hollywood, so I already had this sort of built-in chip on my shoulder about that. I just kind of leaned into it.”
Much of the public is only familiar with Democrats’ side of the story, given the media’s willful complicity in boosting the hoax’s credibility for nearly five years. While “Plot Against The President” largely features pro-Trump voices, they’re the very people who have been vindicated by the facts, but have also had little opportunity to tell this remarkable story without filtering from the left. That makes this documentary a valuable contribution to the record.
“Plot Against The President” is available to watch here.