In a year of dwindling movie releases, Target Number One stands as a fascinating look into the power of empathy and the importance of taking a stand for the truth.
The True Story of Alain Olivier
The film tells the true story of Alain Olivier, a drug addict who was wrongly accused and set up by his own government in the 1980s as part of an elaborate operation to justify an expensive drug task force. Olivier would spend eight years in a prison in Thailand as a result of the fake charges and would likely have died in the prison had it not been for the determination and conscience of a reporter obsessed with finding out the truth.
The film takes its role seriously, as it begins to string together a narrative revealing the heartbreaking circumstances that can slowly corner someone into a life of addiction and how those circumstances make a person vulnerable to abuse.
Olivier finds himself in need of a few dollars to fill up gas, unable to cash his paycheck after finishing some seasonal work. When he calls his parents to help cover the credit card expense, they are suspicious and decline, believing he will use the money for drugs. Embarrassed and ashamed, he leaves without paying.
His problems only compound when his friend, who had promised to find Olivier a place to stay, falls through and ends up connecting him with a drug dealer which pushes him back into his old lifestyle. A few bad decisions later, Olivier finds himself hopelessly in debt to his new boss and drug pusher.
His already tragic circumstances take a dark twist when he becomes entangled in a doomed narcotics operation and is used by his drug-dealing boss, junkie friend, and desperate government agents who are led to believe Olivier is a criminal mastermind. When it becomes clear Olivier is just a common junkie and not a major win for the narcotics division, the agents bury the truth to keep up the facade and save face. They would’ve gotten away with it, too if not for investigative journalist Victor Malarek.
Shot with a shaky-cam, the effect gives relatively mundane office scenes a sense of urgency and grittiness, almost like the viewer is the one eavesdropping on sensitive information. The narrative itself is also presented out of order, with scenes from the past and future running out of order, giving the viewer the sensation of a reporter slowly piecing the story together.
Taking A Stand For The Truth
At its heart, this is a story of a beleaguered reporter who can’t ignore his conscience. It’s a story about doing the right thing when you have more to lose than gain. It’s a story about fighting for justice, especially when you know no one else will.
,blockquote>It’s a story about doing the right thing when you have more to lose than gain.
For the Christian viewer, it’s a reminder of God’s love for justice and our role to seek justice and mercy here on earth.
Looking throughout the Bible, God’s character is revealed to be just. And likewise, we are called to not sit idle when we see injustice but to take action and reach out to those who are vulnerable or being taking advantage of.
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.” (Psalm 82:3)
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:17)
A junkie, disowned by his family, locked in jail on the other side of the world, betrayed by his friends and taken advantage of his own government, Olivier certainly fit the bill for the oppressed and fatherless. And in the face of intimidation, the loss of his job, and even attacks on his family, Malarek did what he could to bring justice to Olivier’s case.
Another reminder, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
With the drought of movie releases in recent months, Target Number One is a fantastic movie night for anyone looking for a great film, beautifully shot and acted, with a message that will fire up your spirit.