No God, No Master

This fairly engrossing historical drama (2012) revisits the anarchist bombings of 1919 and the ensuing raids staged by U.S. attorney general A. Mitchell Palmer to round up and deport immigrants, events whose contemporary implications are duly noted by writer-director Terry Green (Almost Salinas). David Strathairn holds the whole thing together with a compelling performance as real-life FBI agent William J. Flynn, presented (somewhat inaccurately) as a defender of liberal values; Ray Wise is appropriately scary as the right-wing Palmer, though Sean McNall seems to be playing his young protege J. Edgar Hoover by way of David Bowie. Flynn’s pursuit of a terrorist cell makes for a well-oiled police procedural; late in the game, however, Green decides to pull in the Sacco and Vanzetti case, in which two Italian immigrants were likely framed for murder following a payroll robbery in Massachusetts. Their story line not only waters down the cop drama but soon devolves into revolutionary poetry and sappy string music.