Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sharlto Copley, Drew Powell, Amber Rose Mason, Travis Bruyer, Tahmus Rounds, Christian Calloway
Written by: Tony Stone, Gaddy Davis, John Rosenthal
Directed by: Tony Stone
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexual content and brief nudity
Running Time: 123
Date: 02/18/2022

Ted K (2022)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Unabomb Threat

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This deep-dive into the mind of a notorious terrorist and killer is handled just right, forgoing all the tired, traditional biopic notes and staying focused on the subject and capturing his emotions.

Ted Kaczynski (Sharlto Copley) is living in a small 10' x 12' cabin in the woods of Montana. Agitated by the noise of passing planes and snowmobiles, he becomes more and more convinced that machines are taking over the world. He commits small acts of violence, such as breaking into a home and destroying a family's snowmobiles.

This escalates into making bombs. But as time goes on, he becomes more obsessed with making big changes. He writes a 35,000 manifesto and hatches a plan to get it published in the big daily papers. By that time, the FBI has launched the world's largest manhunt to find him.

Directed by Tony Stone, Ted K doesn't glorify Kaczynski, but nor does it tame him. It also doesn't try to be heavy and brutal, like a horror film. As it moves along, we begin to understand his choices, even if we disagree with them. For example, it makes sense that Ted would be irritated by all the buzzing snowmobiles (and mopeds in the summer), and it makes sense that he might be angry about it. The movie pieces together a kind of psychological profile of him, noting that he never had a romantic or sexual relationship, but was highly educated.

Stone attempts a slightly soft, dreamy feel in the movie's fabric, as if Ted weren't quite living in a hard, cold reality. He even imagines a girlfriend for himself, Becky (Amber Rose Mason), who only tells him how wonderful he is. (He has no idea how to converse with women.)

Copley is a large reason the movie works. He's always had a quality of cheerful insanity (he was perfect for "Howling Mad" Murdock in The A-Team) and he plays a maniac not only with ease, but with a certain kind of muted glee. Ted K introduces us not to an evil man, but to a real person who was deeply troubled, went too far, and deservedly paid a price for his crimes.

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