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The F Zone

Review by Alexei Kurupatin

After Alexei found this film -- apparently on the first weekend it was released, in the only city where it had yet been released -- several alert readers wrote with the URL of a Web site for it:

I didn't see any reviews for this movie. I didn't see any advertisements for this movie. I wouldn't have known this movie existed, except that I stopped in at a theater I don't usually go to, and saw a movie poster beside the ticket office. Noon on a Saturday isn't just the best time for movie theaters, but even so, the crowd was pretty sparse: I was the only person there.

I can't even tell you who the actors, director, producer or screenwriter was. IMDB (the Internet Movie Database) barely acknowledges it exists; the single bit of information it provides is that it was made in 1998. Nothing else. Mr. Showbiz didn't even give that. A quick Internet search on Metacrawler produced nothing of interest, and a second one on brought up twenty pages of irrelevancies.

The poster was of a man and a woman - the two stars, and not even a good picture of them - facing each other, with a parchment copy of the Constitution behind them, and a man in a US Marshal windbreaker between them, holding an automatic pistol. The tag line was something like "With the IRS, you're guilty until proven innnocent." I expected something like a film version of Unintended Consequences. I was wrong. What I got was a fictionalized documentary-cum-training video on sovereign citizenship, constitutional law, and the abuses of the tax system.

Don't expect this to be a good movie. It's not. While it's far from the worst movie I've ever seen, it's definitely in the B range. Movies like this don't get huge budgets and big stars. Probably the only reason it's gotten into first-run theaters is because of the subject matter. For the same reason - the subject matter - it's guaranteed not to play widely or long.

Dennis Smith is the owner/operator of a California production company, making commercials and short videos. It's a one-man operation, that hires lots of independent contractors. (Can anyone see where this is going?) On the day his brother shows up on his doorstep to tell him his cancer has returned, Dennis receives a call from the IRS saying they're going to audit him - today. Try to a big fine. The IRS is using him as a test case to change the way his entire industry does business, and they figure he's too small to put up much of a fight.

After an unfriendly audit (is there another kind?), he gets slapped with a bill for over $200,000, a price-tag which will shut him down immediately. At the bank, he discovers his personal and business accounts have been frozen. Later, his car gets seized - at his brother's funeral, no less - and DEA agents break into his house just to hassle him. The movie is not exactly subtle; the chief agent in charge of the IRS operation is named Lothar Gunter.

Smith's accountant admits things are way over his head, and points him toward an attractive tax attorney, who has her own grudge against Gunter. After revealing to Smith that she hasn't paid taxes - or filed a return - in three years, she sends him to the library with a reading list a mile long, and the education begins.

It's an education for us, too. We look over Smith's shoulder as he probes the byzantine labyrinth that is tax law. One strength of the movie is how much information it does get across, without seeming pedantic. The director was smart enough to break the teaching segments up, so the movie doesn't drag over legalese. We learn a wide range of things, such as the fact that the Federal Reserve - a collection of private banks - might be more our government that Congress is. Or that there is good proof that the Sixteenth Amendment was never ratified by the necessary number of states. Or, the one which gives the movie it's name: the Supreme Court has defined three separate definitions of "The Unites States of America". The Feds want us to believe we live in the second one, the "F Zone," so called because "If you live there, you're effed."

The movie plays as if it's based on a true story, over-the-top details not-withstanding. Half-way through we find out that the tax attorney has an ulterior motive: she wants Smith to make a movie about IRS abuses and sovereign citizenship, and she has the financing to make it happen. With the passion he has over his recent abuse, they could create a movie which could really make a difference - called, naturally, "The F Zone." With the exception of the wish-fulfillment ending, this could be a true story, a movie about the making of the movie. Since I can't find any information on the movie, I don't know. If someone knows something, I'd be interested in hearing it.

I don't know enough about Sovereign Citizenship to make a judgement on the idea. I have complete confidence that the people in the movie, and SC's around the country, are absolutely correct in their legal scholarship, many of them knowing far more about the law than the IRS does. I just question whether it's very smart to assume the government cares about the law, or about our rights.

In any case, that may be irrelevant. This is not a good movie, but it is very definitely an important movie. Even if it doesn't convince people to become Sovereign Citizens, it will at least educate people on the tactics that the IRS uses, and cast doubt on the whole concept of income taxation. And that's important.

For 90% of the country, there will probably not be a theater showing this movie within driving distance. And I sorta doubt Blockbuster will ever carry it. But don't be surprised if it starts showing up for sale in gun stores and other liberty-oriented forums. It could become an overnight success via video sales, driven solely by the Internet. If anyone finds an on-line store selling it, notify the Wolfe's Lodge Web Tender. I'm sure Claire would love to link to it.

© Alexei Kurupatin 1999

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09 March, 1999