The NY City Subway Plot
The Student Bomb Maker
Cargo Bomb Plot
Operation Chevrolet: The Plot To Kill Saudi Ambassador
Operation Overt: The Transatlantic Liquid Bomb Plot
Martin Luther King Day Plot
The Sauerland Cell: Plot To Kill U.S. Soldiers
The Israeli Honey Trap
Australian Anzac Day Plot
German Jihad & The EURO Plot
Netflix’s latest true-crime documentary series, Terrorism Close Calls, is, as you might expect, all about foiled terrorist plots. From an elaborate plan to destroy German discotheques to blowing up the New York Underground, Terrorism Close Calls dives into the heart of these plots and reveals the techniques, plans and tricks used by authorities to apprehend those responsible. The series relies heavily on its topical premise to see it through the ten episodes depicted here and although the show is interesting, the exhaustive run time and cheap graphical gimmicks for the re-enactments give the series an unintentional cheap and amateur look.
Each of the 10 episodes depicted follow a pretty familiar format. A brief introduction at the start of the episode introduces us to the main points of the plot before showing a brief history of either the country depicted or the individuals involved. This precedes a good 40 minutes or so of face to face interviews with professionals talking us through the steps used to stop the men responsible and foil their plot. While the narrator manages to inject the right level of intensity to his voice during the re-enacted segments and archival footage, the people actually being interviewed lack enthusiasm and passion in their voice as they describe, in a monotonous way, the methodical steps taken during each mission.
It doesn’t help either that the various scenes used to re-enact key moments in the plot are cheesy and really don’t add much to the series at all. This contrasts with the archival footage which does a much better job projecting what’s happening while acting as an effective way to show the potential devastation these bombs could have caused had they detonated. The first half of the series predominantly focuses on the US counter-terrorism unit, with a good 5 or 6 episodes used to go over the various different plots that were foiled on US soil. While the rest of the documentary does branch out a little and showcase different countries around the world, there’s still a distinct American flavour as we’re told by the narrator that the rest of the world relies heavily on US intelligence to help them out. While this may well be true, it’s also well known that the MI5 in the UK are one of the best counter-terrorism groups in the world and there’s barely a mention of them here which is a bit of a disappointment.
Still, it’s not all bad and the documentary does have its stand out moments. This isn’t the sort of documentary you could sit and binge through, with the exhaustive run time and methodically paced episodes making for a difficult show to sit and watch in one hit. The cheesy re-enactments and lack of enthusiasm from the various people involved doesn’t help either but the actual plots themselves are interesting to discover and do give a good amount of admiration to those involved who have successfully thwart the plots of so many potentially devastating terrorist plots. If you’re looking for an engrossing, emotionally charged documentary on terrorism we recommend checking out November 13: Attack On Paris which is a far better option but there’s just enough here to make Terrorism Close Calls an engrossing watch nonetheless.
Verdict - 6/10