Money Machine (2020)

Following the Las Vegas shooting, documentary filmmaker Ramsey Denison goes to find answers as to what happened, how it was possible, how things were handled after the fact, and what may or may not have changed in Las Vegas following one of the largest mass shootings in the United States.

Filmmaker Ramsey Denison has made another documentary about Las Vegas and its police force as well as its management of things on that side of situations. His film What Happened in Vegas was another documentary that feels very similar with this one, except this new one seems to hit a lot harder at the start. Money Machine shows a lot of cellphone camera footage taken by some of the people on the ground, running for their lives as the shooter sends round after round flying into the crowd at the country music festival that became his target. The footage in this section of the film is brutal and extremely hard to watch, which will be something some will like that is it included, but to others it will be much too brutal and seeing people fall over dead, some of them with a hole in his face/head that is mostly kept off-camera . The inclusion of this footage makes for a strong statement, but it will also turn off a lot of viewers who will not want to keep going through this. It could easily trigger PTSD in some and make others uncomfortable to the point of crying. The film could have done with less of that and perhaps more news footage and interviews to convey the same information without the brutal hit on the viewer. Of course, some viewers will need this to pass the message of how horrible the shooting was to them.

The second half or so of the film is mostly about what happened after the shooting and how it shows the Las Vegas police department in bad light as well as some local politicians. As with the first film on Las Vegas by Denison, there is a strong lack of information and opinions from the other side of things. Of course, this can be simply due to the police, sheriff, and politicians not wanting to get on camera or their PR blocking access to them, but as it stands, it makes the film look very one sided which is unfortunate because it has something very important at its center. There is a high chance that the other side was not explored for reason of being refused access, which would only prove the points to an extent. What it leads to here is feeling like the documentary is going for the shock factor and then offers a few interviewees with good points and important information, but something feels like it’s missing.

After being hit by the raw and brutal footage from cellphone cameras, the interviews feel like they are not quite right, like something is missing. Perhaps it’s an opinion thing, but there should be something more in there as well as something less. The film feels both like something is missing while there is too much involved. It’s hard to watch at first, so hard, that it takes away from the rest of the film and its potential result. The film suffers from that imbalance which should have been a good way to make the point. It will work for some, but for those who are sensitive, it may very well be too hard of a watch with all the hard footage all at the start, all in one place, hitting one scene after the other after the other after the other. Perhaps, a better mix of things, the order of which could have been changed, may have helped viewers like this one be better able to connect with the material instead of being turned into a mess of emotions.