Yes, In The Defense Against Tyranny is about as subtle as a rocket exploding in your face. And in a move that will probably piss off some viewers, writer/director Felix Igori Ramos does not try to play to both sides of the political spectrum. He has feelings on the current landscape of American politics, and his feature-length debut is how he’s chosen to get those ideas across. So, how successful is he?
Francisco “Frank” Suarez (Randy Vasquez) is a political pundit with big dreams. But, due to his alcohol dependency, cheating on his wife, who has cancer, and estrangement from his daughter, Elise (Fernanda Moya), the reporter sees all those hopes vanish. A few years later, Frank is given the opportunity to interview a reviled 2020 candidate for president, Edward Ashe (Rick Ravanello). In an effort to reform his image and move to the big time, Frank agrees to ask only softball questions.
This pisses his daughter off even more, as she believes Ashe to be a threat to the U.S. as a whole. And then a mysterious man, Emilio (Vance Valencia), enters and tells Frank to do the unthinkable: poison Ashe, who will then die of a heart attack. Emilio claims that while this measure is drastic, it is the only one to save the country from itself. So does Frank murder the hatemonger? Does he do as promised and give a simple, easy interview?
Yes, Ashe is nothing more than a thinly veiled Trump stand-in. Yes, the plot does not dig into the circumstances that allowed someone like Trump to become a frontrunner in the first place. But, In The Defense Against Tyranny works and works well.
“…tells Frank to do the unthinkable: poison Ashe, who will then die of a heart attack.”
Ramos paints Frank and Elise with a distinct brush, so even though the politicals are simplified, the main characters are not. Their evolving relationship throughout the film forms the emotional heartbeat of the plot. Frank tells his daughter that he knows she hates him. Vasquez plays the scene with a quiet resignation that hits the nail on the head.
Moya is delightful as Elise, bringing the right amount of pain and optimism to her part. Ravanello is hateable as the rhetoric spewing, in-it-for-himself politician, meaning he’s exactly what the role requires. Valencia is fun as the mysterious man trying to control what the public thinks.
But really, it is the script that is the biggest asset to In The Defense Against Tyranny. See, the filmmaker does an excellent job presenting his message and getting audiences to be on his side. By the end, all watching will get a cathartic release that is desperately needed in real life.
In The Defense Against Tyranny calls out the violent rhetoric that still holds sway over some voters. The message is presented in a relatable way, though without any subtlety. The cast is quite game and delivers excellent performances across the board. Will the movie piss some folks off? Yes, and that’s the point.
To learn more about the film, head on over to its Facebook page.
"…all watching will get a cathartic release that is desperately needed in real life."