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REVIEW: 'Money Machine' examines aftermath of Las Vegas massacre

REVIEW: 'Money Machine' examines aftermath of Las Vegas massacre


Documentaries fascinate me.

I could watch documentaries all day … upon occasion, I have.

They are so often movies made from the heart. Someone has to become intrigued with a topic — a situation or a person, generally — enough to have the patience to assemble them, to pursue them and to try to find an audience for them.

There are a lot of documentaries available, but sometimes you have to look pretty hard to find them. Among the new ones is “Money Machine,” directed by Ram Denison.

It’s a film about a massacre in Las Vegas, and why you may have forgotten about it. It has mystery, politics and crime in its brief run time. It will appeal to true-crime enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists alike.

This is what the director himself has to say about the movie in his online statement: “’Money Machine’ exposes a rigged game of corrupt policing and corporate cover-ups that I never would have been able to expose without the cooperation of the retired cops who provided it.”

It’s about a tragedy that occurred Oct. 1, 2017, when Stephen Paddock, 64, began to fire on a crowd of more than 22,000 people from his 32nd-floor Mandalay Bay hotel room in Vegas. He killed 58 people and wounded more than 400 in just a few minutes — the largest mass shooting in the history of the country.

Paddock, incidentally, grew up in Tucson, Ariz., and the Sun Valley area of Los Angeles. He was born in Clinton, Iowa, the son of Benjamin Paddock, a bank robber who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

You’ll see a lot of disturbing footage from the slaying itself as well as the aftermath. Denison interviews private investigators, retired cops and survivors to piece together the events of the evening and the days that followed.

Denison has theories about corruption and subterfuge that he believes helped people forget about what happened — a memorial for the attack, for example, is seven miles from where it happened.

Denison’s hypothesis, and the concept of the movie, is a lot of powerful people in Las Vegas worked together to ensure the city’s economy remained healthy, and tourists continued to pour into the casinos.

Among those interviewed is the articulate survivor Katherine Thornton, who swears she heard another round of shots coming from a second location. The official pronouncement is there was only one shooter, even though cab driver Cori Langdon recorded a second round of shots fire on her cellphone.

Eric Paddock, Stephen’s brother, also is interviewed. He talks about how his brother gambled and became angry when his favorite casino began to cut back on his perks. He says that’s why his brother planned the domestic-terrorism attack.

It’s an intriguing look at a horrific crime that rocked the nation, and, sadly, is largely forgotten three years later.


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Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Society of Professional Journalists, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Alliance of Women Film Journalists member. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church.

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