‘The Invisible Pilot‘ is a HBO original true crime documentary directed by Phil Lott and Ari Mark. It is told in three parts and was streamed onto the HBO Max app. It tells the story of a drug mule and pilot Gary Betzner who would fake his own death to escape justice.
Betzer goes from cheating on his wife and abandoning his daughter to getting married to another woman (whom he also abandoned), all while he was consuming, selling, and delivering illegal drugs. Of course, he blames the pushback against marijuana. He was busted and faked his own death… in front of his own daughter in order to escape prosecution and eventually got involved with the CIA. From there comes a story of lies, deceit, and a crazy adventure.
First of all, the documentary is trying to paint Gary as some sort of rebel and anti-hero who is devoted to his “one true love.” He bucked the system by selling hard drugs even though it was against the law and did you know he was a pilot? Cool, right?
The fact is, Gary is kind of a scumbag. He cheated on all of his wives, abandoned his children, was a jerk to his friends, and then tried to escape accountability for his crimes. He’s not a rebel. He is a junkie loser and deadbeat dad. There is no other way to spin it. The attempt to hail him as some sort of hero was pathetic and obvious.
Oddly, the third episode sort of veers into a denunciation of the Iran-Contra affair, which is fine. The scandal is worth criticizing, but it was a jarring bait-and-switch which allowed a podcast host and a handful of journos to whine about something. I thought we were doing a documentary on a low-life drug smuggler. It was a laugh out loud pathetic attempt to score political points. I have to wonder if they realized they could not glamorize Gary so they shifted in an attempt to save the series.
On another note, it was poorly edited. The interviews, flashbacks, b-roll, and everything in between are cut together in a chaotic fashion that jars you while you are trying to follow along. At times, I forgot who was who and had to really focus to keep up with this insane and nonsense story. I have seen Lifetime movies with better editing and storytelling than this documentary series. Give it a firm pass.
Check out the trailer below:
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Drug and alcohol abuse, Disturbing topics, Violence, Thematic elements
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