It's very tempting for Lennon fans to see him as something of a political victim, since he virtually invented rock star activism. Although this documentary is predictably sympathetic to John & Yoko's cause, it doesn't protect them from charges of naivety and perhaps just a little gall in expecting to be allowed to stay in the country at the same time as they were criticising that country's policies at every opportunity – however valid that criticism might have been. It also quietly acknowledges that the US was within its rights to cancel their visa, however petty and paranoid such an act may have been. You have to know which arses to kick and which ones to kiss.
In fact, the first two thirds of The US vs John Lennon is taken up with a history of his political activism between 1968 and 1972, and he comes across as a remarkably moderate voice between competing world views. But this was the height of the paranoid Nixon years and the administration saw him as a threat, which of course, he was to the establishment, even though he was also telling radical elements to be cool and that violence wasn't going to help anyone. Major players from all sides are interviewed, including John Sinclair, Angela Davis (both subjects of Lennon songs), G Gordon Liddy, Geraldo Rivera, George McGovern, and Walter Cronkite, among others.
John's music is used to excellent effect throughout, especially Scared. The audio is listed as 5.1 but don't go expecting great surround mixes.
Highlight: John telling the crowd at the John Sinclair concert, “Apathy isn't it. So flower power didn't work, so what? We start again.”
Feature: * * * *
Audio: Dolby 5.1, Dolby Stereo