American Bomber

American Bomber

By Eric Trenkamp

Synopsis

Recently released from military prison with a dishonorable discharge and a broken heart, John Hidell decides to travel to New York City. His preparations for his trip are inter-cut with documentary-style interviews with his mother and childhood acquaintances revealing his abusive childhood and his adoration of his older half-brother, Jim. Interviews with Army buddies reveal Hidell’s desire to become an Army Ranger in Afghanistan, like Jim. He enlists and the Army stations him in Arizona instead. Jim dies in Afghanistan and Hidell takes the news badly, hospitalizing a sergeant and earning six months in the brig. While serving out his sentence he meets Speiler, a charismatic sociopath who uses Hidell’s anger to manipulate him into joining an extremist militia group composed of former inmates.

Released with a dishonorable discharge, Hidell’s anger consumes him. He buys a one-way ticket to New York City and arrives at Port Authority with a backpack full of explosives, ready to deliver one last ‘fuck you’ to the world.?

Hidell stays in Brooklyn with Miles, another former inmate and a fanatic disciple of Speiler’s. Together they prepare for Hidell’s suicide bombing. Interwoven with their preparations are interviews with FBI agents and Army specialists who each hold a piece of the puzzle behind Hidell’s motivation.

Oblivious to the surveillance around him, Hidell tours the city, trying to enjoy his last week on earth. While exploring he befriends and is seduced by Amy, a witty bartender and recent divorcee. Their one-night stand develops into a relationship and Hidell begins to neglect his role in the bombing plan. As Amy takes him on a tour of her favorite places in the city, his infatuation with her and with New York grows. When Miles threatens to rape and kill Amy, Hidell and he fight, resulting in Miles’ death. Meanwhile, the FBI and Homeland Security become aware of the bombing plot and begin to close in on Hidell. They discover Miles’ dead body and a city-wide manhunt for Hidell begins.

With his photo in the newspapers and every law enforcement agency in the city looking for him, Hidell reaches out to the only person he can trust – Amy. After lying to the FBI, Amy confronts him. She accuses him of using her and their relationship as cover for his 'cheap James Bond fantasy'. He tries to assure her that everything they shared was real and begs her not to hate him, but her disgust won’t allow her to acknowledge any feelings for him at all. Hidell takes this as another in a long succession of abandonment – his parents, his friends, his country – and watches her walk away into the night with only his backpack for solace.

That morning Amy lies awake in bed, trying to decide if she did the right thing or not. Meanwhile, Hidell smokes one last cigarette across the street from his target, trying to find one good reason not to go through with the bombing. He can’t.??

A montage of news footage shows us the aftermath of the bombing. Amy frantically throws out every item in her apartment Hidell may have touched, desperate to remove any trace of him. In the final documentary interview, Hidell’s mother studies a photo album containing the last snapshot of her son. Numb with grief, she closes the book on him.
United States 90 minutes 2013 English
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Awards
  • Best Crime Feature (Winner) - 2013 Annual Manhattan Film Festival (Manhattan, NY)
  • Best Director (Winner) - 2013 Art of Brooklyn Film Festival (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Best Feature Film (Winner) - 2013 Mississippi International Film Festival (Jackson, MS)
Festivals
  • Annual Manhattan Film Festival 2013 (Manhattan, NY)
  • Art of Brooklyn Film Festival 2013 (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Big Apple Film Festival 2013 (New York City)
  • Mississippi International Film Festival 2013 (Jackson, MS)
  • New Filmmakers 2013 (New York City)