The deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States of America occurred on October 1, 2017. That is when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, fired into a crowd attending a concert. Fifty-eight people died in that horrific attack, and many others were injured. Director Ram Denison explores the aftermath of the attack, while also exhaustively documenting the LVPD’s odd response and investigation of the incident in the hard to watch, but excellent, Money Machine.
He interviews survivors, private investigators, retired police officers, along with witnesses to piece together the events of that night. More importantly, Denison deep dives into how the politicians and cops allowed the city to return to normal as quickly as possible. For example, the memorial for the domestic terrorist attack is seven miles away from where it occurred. It is nestled in a small suburb, well hidden from downtown Las Vegas that dominates the public consciousness of the city.
“…explores the aftermath of the attack, while also exhaustively documenting the LVPD’s odd response…”
Why would the site be so far away? Well, as the title Money Machine not so subtlety, money is the answer. Las Vegas casinos brought in over $25 billion in revenue annually. As investigative reporter Doug Poppa lays out in his 100+ articles about the attack and its aftermath, Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who refused to be interviewed for the documentary, bungled the investigation via improper timelines and refusal to publicly release all the evidence (including hiding that the first officer on the scene was too scared to engage the shooter) to keep the economy of the city alive. If people are too frightened to show up, how would the corporations that own the casinos make money?
Yes, that sounds like a conspiracy theory, and I don’t really prescribe to them, but the evidence here is overwhelming. Poppa is probably the most informative interviewee as to why the Mandalay Bay shooting has left the consciousness so quickly. The most heartbreaking interviewee is that of survivor Katherine Thornton. She is convinced she heard another round of shots coming from a second location, but the official word is that there was only one shooter. But that does not explain how cab driver Cori Langdon recorded a second volley of shots being fired with her cellphone. That other burst was much closer to her and on a lower floor than the one Stephen Paddock was firing from.
"…beautifully captures the glitz and glam of Las Vegas, while allowing the seedy underbelly of corruption to seep in..."