Few nations can boast the firepower of the United States Armed Forces. Yet, despite discussions of patriotism and heroism, these soldiers rarely receive enough resources. For those who serve, a fifteen-minute shootout could define their entire lives. With so little being done to assist veterans, it’s no wonder that many can be recruited by those with darker agendas. Against All Enemies warns about the growing dissatisfaction and anger churning within the ranks of new veterans. Yet with time to act, can we change something before a tragedy occurs?

Documentarian Charlie Sadoff takes us straight to the source. Throughout his feature documentary, Sadoff lets those disillusioned with the government and culture speak their mind. After all, many of these soldiers simply want to be heard. Simultaneously, a series of talking heads explain why veterans have become recruitment tools for extremists. As he explores this dangerous world, it becomes clear that veterans are far from a monolith. From the post-9/11 patriotism fervor to January 6th, caring for veterans feels more important than ever.

Against All Enemies Tribeca 2023

Throughout Against All Enemies, Sadoff showcases the power of small social movements and clubs. Some of these were genuinely created with the best of intentions. Yet others were meant to preserve a way of life, even if it was in opposition to the government. One can draw a straight line from the era of Reconstruction in America to many of these groups. In some cases, they’ve become extremists like the KKK, the Oathkeepers, or the 3 Percenters. In other scenarios, they’ve become cogs to maintain a status quo in local and state governments.

Yet soldiers, who receive high degrees of intense education, often find themselves the targets of these groups. This is not from a lack of awareness about the political realities. This comes from a feeling of loss and disownment. For everything soldiers give up to protect the country, they want to feel like the effort was worth it. If the world changed while you were away, a feeling of disorientation is natural. If someone can then flame negativity in your life and openly court aggrievement politics, they can intensify the anger.

While Against All Enemies provides a thorough breakdown of the situation, it must offer more solutions. At a certain point, the cyclical nature of the explanation harms Sadoff’s point. We understand the danger involved. Several talking heads offer paths to better futures. Unfortunately, we need more moments like this throughout the film.

Against All Enemies Tribeca 2023

Despite its expert research, Against All Enemies mostly preaches to the choir. It reaches for empathy, but several of those to the right are so extreme they feel outlandish. Drawing a line from the white supremacist past to active conspiracy theorists does not attempt to change minds. Instead, the film speaks to one side of the political divide while explaining why the other lost its way.

Despite these qualms, Against All Enemies showcases impressive documentary filmmaking. With excellent editing and some intriguing case studies, we grow to understand the Armed Forces to militia pipeline. With more effort to connect, many can prevent the terrifying future predicted by Against All Enemies. Yet it’s ultimately an interpersonal issue of those who can reach out actually doing so.

Alan’s Rating: 7/10

What do you think of Against All Enemies? Let us know in the comments below! Watch Against All Enemies at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival.

Check out our reviews and pieces from the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival here!

Leave a Reply