It’s when Bannon starts turning his attention to Europe, and then the 2018 midterms, that Klayman gets to record the less pleasant aspects of Bannon’s personality—those you thought were always there, maybe, but that he was able to keep hidden. Addressing Klayman at one point, he throws out a quote from Abraham Lincoln, one from which the film’s title is derived, and has the nerve to discern an analogy to his own situation as a potential political outcast therein. Even if you’re ideologically aligned with the guy you have to see the grandiosity in that. (Oh who am I kidding, of course you don’t, that’s already been proven.)
Bannon tries to sell himself to Nigel Farage (imagine being that hard up), envisions a network of right-wing European politicians working together, curses a lot, allows that he “loves’ fucking with” Hillary Clinton (does anyone think she cares anymore?) and berates the editor of Breitbart London. One of the funniest bits is at a dinner with various continental sophistos, at which that editor, Raheem Kassam asks, before the meal is served, if anyone would like to say grace. Everyone at the table, including Bannon, looks at him as if he’s grown a third eye. Then the camera finds Arizona congressman Paul Gosar, who snaps to attention and starts droning a prayer. The “let’s throw a sop to the rube” feeling of the scene is quite remarkable.
Then it’s off to the midterms. Bannon is joined by toxic avenger Sam Nunberg, who brags to the camera that he invented the idea of “the wall.” Way to go, Sam. But on election night this genius is just another Bannon flunky. “Do your job, Sam,” he screeches. But the House is lost anyway. Klayman’s accomplished, absorbing film does not pretend not to be pleased by this.
Where does this leave Bannon? At the movie’s end he’s back In Rome. Whether he becomes a force again or just devolves into a fringe figure with an expensive European hobby remains to be seen. It doesn’t look great for him from here.