“What’s the difference between a terrorist and a person?”
It’s not a matter of if we’ll ever get to the point where reality television tackles a subject like terrorism for entertainment, but when. Preempting that unfortunate day, writer/director Dee McLachlan gives us the very funny and timely game show entitled “Who Wants to be a Terrorist” as the premise to her satiric look at salacious media and the warped minds it reaches, 10Terrorists! Mocking the likes of “American Idol”, “The Amazing Race”, “The Apprentice”, and “Iron Chef” amongst others, the film pits ten contestants from very disparate nationalities and ethnicities against each other to prove who’s most worthy of becoming a bona fide enemy of the state. The judges, comprised of an MI6 agent (Richard Cawthorne), Colombian Rosalinda Olivera Sanchez (Jackie Diamond), and Pakistani Miki Miraj (Sachin Joab), look to find the fiercest, most cold-blooded monsters they can.
The audition process is high farce—or exactly like “Idol”—with 17,163 entrants vying to be included in the final ten. We watch each sit with the judges and explain why they’re ready to go against the world. Some have legitimate reasons of wanting to destroy dictatorships or seeking revenge for a fallen family member to an imperialist regime, but others simply enjoy making bombs. So, mixed with the untranslatable deep-voiced ranting of Japan (Masa Yamaguchi) winning a spot for his tenacity, there are the likes of Milan Perkins‘ amateur explosives expert taking his guitar onstage to sing a song about his amoral mind. From Colombia to Kazahkstan, these eco-terrorists, cyber-terrorists, jihadists, and pirates all try to explain how their brand of guerilla warfare is best.
At the end of the day, though, the judges want a collection of people to wreak havoc and kill remorselessly. The grand prize may be a million bucks—courtesy of producer Max Brunette (Jasper Bagg) safe in his mansion back home loving every minute of the carnage—but the true bragging rights are to prove they have what it takes. Cat (Leah de Niese) wants to enact change, Azim (Osamah Sami) looks to counter his ‘George Clooney of Iran’ image with badassery, and Yah Yah (Samir Malik) hopes to leave his crybaby ways behind to follow his Somali pirate father’s footsteps despite the man’s demise from accidentally boarding of a Navy ship instead of a cargo vessel. Comically, however, it may be more fun seeing Sam (Matt Hetherington) long to break things and Cleopatra (Ratidzo Mambo) con her way in as an African by ‘playing the game’.
And this is why the wake-up calls sprinkled throughout are so hilarious. Much to host Simone Price’s (Kendal Rae) chagrin, we don’t know if live fire, real tear gas, and authentic bomb components are being utilized until people start dying. It’s the age-old question of, “how real is real?” and Brunette wants nothing less than life or death stakes. As a result, ‘Blaster Chef’ comes with dire consequences and ‘The Amazing Chase’ forces two teams to actually steal a car in order to acquire the weaponry key to winning the game. Innocent bystanders are accosted and scared while Australian newscasters quizzically wonder what’s happening in their backyard. Everything onscreen is filtered as though we in the audience are watching the show complete with behind the scenes candidness and in-your-face self-promotions.
With pitch-perfect sound effects at an obnoxious volume and animated graphics popping up to display the new challenge’s title or information on the judges, one does get transported into the adrenaline rush. The over-exuberance of all involved comes through and I seriously wouldn’t be surprised to walk into my parents home one day to see it on the television. Each judge gets the attitude just right and their excitement at sending their contestants into dangerous and illegal situations is horribly fantastic. They revel in seeing environmentalist Terra (Veronica Sywak) calling Ying (Frieda McKenna) a fat lesbian or Africa (Terry Yeboah) humbly thanking all involved for giving him the chance at terrorist glory. It’s a vanity project to them anyway—to get paid and have a little fun torturing the final four in Abu Ghraib.
If I were to fault anything it would be the constant look at Brunette’s activities in Los Angeles. It’s pretty much the Tom Cruise role from Tropic Thunder but without the impact. The real fun is inside the show and I’m not sure we ever really need or want to excise ourselves from it. Yes, the initial look at the producer’s antics and absurd reasoning behind his creation is funny, but those interviews are part of the charade. Even the evolution of hacker Phoenix (Aljin Abella) becomes too much in the grand scheme of things once shown away from the camera. Played off like a William Hung in audition, it’s a treat seeing this twelve-year old looking kid trying to look intimidating when asked about hand-to-hand combat abilities. Where McLachlan eventually takes his story, however, only subverts the façade of the show.
Besides this, however, 10Terrorists! delivers on its goals. Succeeding in satire and comedy, I think anyone who has been conscious in the aughts will be able to relate to the absurdity onscreen. I personally despise all reality TV but have been exposed to it by friends and families who love the vicarious feeling of taking the journey to root for and mock their favorites. But here I was cheering on Adam Pierzchalski‘s Kret, Yeboah’s Africa, and Yamaguchi’s Japan for the simple fact their foreign stereotypes made them appear more ‘terrorist’ by the definition I implicitly give the word—and I’m Middle Eastern. Terra, Cleopatra, and Sam are all posers in this context because I’ve been so ingrained to believe these monsters only come from certain nations. So, not only does the film expose society’s slow dissolution of human life’s value, it also shows how brainwashed we’ve all become.
 Bodhi threatens Big Boss
 Camp Six – Dressed in overalls imported from Guantanamo Bay – Yeboah & Pierzchlski
 At Guantanamo Bay