This fascinating documentary covers the greatest unsolved heist in American history and explores the obsession with uncovering Coopers identity.
For those unfamiliar with the case, in November 1971, a man who came to be known as DB Cooper hijacked s plane and demanded $2000,000 in ransom. He got his money and jumped out of the plane to an unknown fate. He was never heard from again.
The film covers the facts of the case in great detail, but it never lets the pacing get bogged down in dates and discussions of airplane altitude. This is a movie about stories and story telling. The facts are recounted, but they are given life by the interviews with the people who were there.
Where the film gets really interesting is when it explores what happened after the hijacking. Over the years the FBI received thousands of confessions all claiming that they were DB Cooper.
The movie interviews dozens of people all claiming to know who Cooper was. A man who wanders the wilderness looking for Cooper’s remains is convinced he died. A couple whose friend Barbara confessed that she was Cooper over drinks. A woman claims her uncle disappeared to Mexico after the hijacking and must be Cooper. A woman has spent years following the trail of breadcrumbs her husband left leading her to believe he was Cooper.
This is where the movie gets really interesting. Everyone has an explanation they firmly believe in. Everyone is convinced that they know for sure who Cooper was. They are one hundred percent convinced they have the truth. It doesn’t matter that their unshakable conviction comes from very flimsy circumstantial evidence. They believe it, and that’s all that counts.
I really enjoyed that side of the film. In the beginning we’re given the mystery, then we get to hear everyone’s explanations for that mystery. Where I think some people might be frustrated is that the movie doesn’t try to give an answer. It doesn’t take anyone’s side. Instead, it asks the question; why do we need to know? Knowing Cooper’s identity isn’t going to bring the money back. This November will be the 50th anniversary of the hijacking. Cooper has likely long since passed away. Why obsess over this case? What gives our lives meaning?
Those are some heavy questions, but don’t be fooled. The movie is a lot of fun. It zips by with a fast pace that never sacrifices the story. It has a fascinating group of subjects. It feels like the best of a true crime podcast. It has really fun twists and turns. And some great truth is stranger than fiction moments.
Overall it’s a fun and engaging documentary you can check out now on HBO Max. It asks some good questions. It shares some great history. And it introduces us to some fascinating people. It’s a great documentary for your Friday night.
It was my cup of tea. A