Photo Credit: Movie Story Youtube Channel
D.B. Cooper: Where Are You?! is a four-part true crime docuseries directed by Marina Zenovich and produced by Sheldon Lazarus, P.G. Morgan, Leo Pearlman, and Marina Zenovich. Released on Netflix on July 13, 2022. Each episode is 45 minutes long. It has a 90 percent score on rotten tomatoes, but the audience score is 30 percent. It follows various people’s quest to find the mysterious identity of D.B. Cooper, who hijacked a Northwest Airlines jet in November of 1971 and escaped with $200,000 ($1,000,000 with today’s inflation).
Each episode is filled with excellent visuals as experts go over details of the case in interviews. Authors, private investigators, historians, researchers, podcast hosts, and former government agents have different viewpoints depending on their experience and research. It is interesting to see how these voices inform the audience why people continue to chase after the real identity of D.B. Cooper. There’s fame and fortune to whoever discovers it. Other investigators speculate that one individual wants that.
Tom Colbert is a well-known cold case investigator and has the most screen time for this series. Others acknowledge his efforts to gather information are extraordinary since how the FBI refused to release any to the public for so long. Colbert even invested $200,000 into his investigation. It’s rare for a case to go as long as it did for him. However, they criticize his theory as conspiratorial. A few think he is wrong. Particularly after one of the long-time suspects, Robert Rackstraw’s files after his passing in 2019, are released. Colbert moved on to another case, The Zodiac Killer because there were no new leads. The FBI also stated the case is closed and that Colbert did not add anything new.
Episode one does a decent job at giving the audience an understanding of the story surrounding the case and the named suspects. Anyone unfamiliar with this famous case will want to watch more. Unfortunately, that is where my praise ends.
For the rest of the episodes, the quality plummets as we watch Colbert interview dead ends and harass Robert Rackstraw. Even Tom’s partner for the docuseries, Jim, states he doesn’t want to cause Rackstraw ill health. Rackstraw himself is evasive when to their questions as this man wants to live a quiet life repairing boats. He did live an eventful life before he settled down to have a family. Jim no longer believes Rackstraw is the man they’re looking for in the end. It led to a riff between Colbert and Jim as they stopped speaking to each other.
The last episode explores the parallels between Cooper and the Candian comic book of the same name. It provides details not known to many regarding the Canadian military and the challenges faced by veterans. Intelligent forces between Canada and the United States refused to cooperate to find the truth sooner at the time of the initial investigation. However, this is still speculation at the end of the day. Some experts at the end of the episode say the case will remain unsolved given how much time passed and the lack of information, ultimately disappointing many viewers.
What makes this so hard to solve is the lack of information the FBI could not obtain during the 1970s. Technology was nowhere near as advanced as today, along with the increased security at U.S. airports. It is when people were allowed to smoke on a plane. It is unclear where Cooper could have landed since no one saw him jump off the stairs. It was also a dark, stormy night, so any planes following the jet could not have seen it. The conditions Cooper jumped out were dangerous because it was cold with only a suit. An experienced military veteran or skydiver would not plan for that weather. He could have died due to other factors because the authorities never found his remains. Bodies decompose faster when in contact with water or snow. Or animals could have eaten it. There are so many simple explanations disregarded.
All of the found evidence is not enough for any new leads. The river where investigators found some of the cash also changed. So the area is not accessible and thus can not be re-examined. It is an impossible task at this point. People's memory degrades over time. They end up forgetting details and can be considered unreliable. It is why the FBI closed the case after such a long time.
It is a waste of time if you’re a true crime fan. Two hours to be precise. There are better docuseries on Netflix as well. Such as Who Killed Malcolm X? Which does a much better job at presenting a timeline, the facts, proper investive techniques, and handling a disappointing ending. It would have been much better if the documentary focused on exploring other details or history regarding the case. Instead, it focuses on Colbert’s story to find the missing piece of the puzzle because giving up is not in his nature.
A story without a resolution is not what a western audience desires for a mystery. It’s like trying to pound a round peg into a square hole. It’s frustrating. Overall, it comes off as Colbert trying to salvage his investments in the project with added sections for clarity. It’s disappointing. If I had to rate it, it would be a five out of 10.
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