‘Flynn’ portrays the Christian nationalist evangelist’s fight with the ‘Deep State’

A new film hagiography portrays the former Trump adviser as a victim of the 'Deep State,' omitting his current mission to spread the gospel of Christian nationalism.

Michael Flynn, a retired three-star general who served as Trump's national security adviser, speaks on stage during the ReAwaken America tour at Cornerstone Church, in Batavia, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(RNS) — Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and a driving force behind the ReAwaken America Tour, has a new show he’s taking on the road, a 127-minute hagiographic documentary chronicling his fight against the “Deep State” — a shadowy cabal of government operatives that Flynn insists are fixated on destroying him and his former boss.

“I’m surprised they haven’t killed me,” Flynn tells the camera in “Flynn.” “I’m surprised they’ve let me continue to live.”

“Flynn,” the film, poses as a straight-laced documentary but is starkly silent about Flynn’s current mission: spreading the gospel of Christian nationalism and preparing his followers to wage spiritual warfare, starting by taking over local politics. 

The film’s goal seems to be to rewrite history and bolster Flynn’s credibility as a spiritual leader. After all, to Flynn’s followers, the “Deep State” isn’t just a political enemy, it’s a spiritual one, and the only way to serve God and save America is to destroy it. 

"Flynn" documentary poster. (Courtesy image)

“Flynn” documentary poster. (Courtesy image)

According to Flynn’s narrative in the film, his Deep State troubles really began in 2010, when the lieutenant general, then director of intelligence for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, published a frank assessment (via private think tank) of ongoing intelligence failures in Afghanistan. That report rankled the powers that be, according to the movie — in reality, the report was well-received and endorsed by the secretary of defense at the time.

But from that point on, Flynn claims, “they” were on a mission to silence and destroy him via “baseless” accusations and fraudulent prosecution efforts.

In that sense, “Flynn” might be considered a counter to the 2022 Frontline/PBS documentary “Michael Flynn’s Holy War,” which told the tale of a once-respected lieutenant general who had served in the Obama White House as well as Trump’s before getting pulled into QAnon conspiracy theories, shady foreign dealings and Christian nationalism. Instead “Flynn” mythologizes its subject as a renegade who perseveres against all odds, standing up to malevolent forces in defense of “the truth.” 

“He’s the only person who could have withstood this type of evil, this unfathomable domestic evil, and beat it, too,” said Flynn’s sister, Clare Flynn Eckert, as the camera panned to a gold statue of an angel holding a sword in front of an American flag. “He was meant for this time.” 

The film premiered April 5 at a community center in Sarasota County, Florida, and will screen at 32 other locations, mostly municipal buildings, barns and church halls, across 25 states in the next two months. Tickets start at $35, but for $200 you get a photo op with Flynn and a “Flynn” film swag bag.

So far, the screenings seem to have attracted decent crowds and have featured prayer circles and drawn QAnon influencers as well as state senators, including Arizona State Sen. Wendy Rogers. 

A week after the film became available on Amazon, it had sold over 4,000 copies, climbed to No. 31 in Movies and DVD, and No. 1 in the “Special Interests” category, beating out the Ken Burns National Parks collection, a line-dancing instructional DVD and the musical “Annie.”

Besides the film’s glaring absence of any mention of Flynn’s yearslong “ReAwaken” tour, which has taken Christian nationalism to suburbs and small towns across the country to recruit an “Army of God,” the film also fails to touch on the violent Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. 

Michael Flynn, a retired three-star general who served as Trump's national security adviser, greets supporters near the stage during the ReAwaken America tour at Cornerstone Church, in Batavia, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Michael Flynn, a retired three-star general who served as Trump’s national security adviser, greets supporters near the stage during the ReAwaken America tour at Cornerstone Church, in Batavia, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Flynn was one of the biggest proponents of the “Stop the Steal” conspiracy and spoke at an event in Washington, D.C., the day before the riot. When Flynn was deposed by the House Committee investigating the riot, he repeatedly took the fifth in response to questions about whether violence that day was justified.

Nor does the film mention QAnon, a conspiracy theory that he’s flirted with over the years — although Tracy Beanz, an early adopter of the movement, appears as a talking head in the film as an “independent journalist.” 

But other conspiracy theories, in addition to the overarching “Deep State” narrative, are sprinkled across the film, including the idea that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by the intelligence community for speaking out against corruption. “We’ve gone from the physical assassination of a president of the United States, to a character assassination of a national security adviser,” he says. 

Early on in the film, he leads former Fox News host Tucker Carlson into a room that is papered from floor to ceiling with a Flynn “conspiracy board”: a massive timeline consisting of printed out articles and yarn connecting various events. 

While the documentary focuses primarily on his claim that the Deep State tried to ruin him and his family, the film’s credits reveal ties to influential culture warriors, his ReAwaken tour and election deniers. 

The film was made by Aquidneck Island Productions LLC, named for an area of Flynn’s home state of Rhode Island. Business records indicate that the LLC is in the name of Magda Mellor, wife of businessman Victor Mellor, a top lieutenant in Flynn’s culture war. 

Mellor is the owner of “The Hollow,” a gathering-place in Sarasota County for activists and Christian nationalists, including Proud Boys, that offers free shooting lessons for kids as young as six. 

The film’s credits give special thanks to a number of pro-Trump personalities, including Alfie Oakes, a farmer, MAGA influencer and political donor based in Florida. They also thank Jim Breuer, a former Saturday Night Live cast member who has participated in the ReAwaken tour, and Raj Doraisamy, a Florida-based election conspiracy theorist with close ties to pillow entrepreneur Mike Lindell. 

In addition to Carlson and Beanz, other talking heads in the documentary include former U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, an avowed Trump supporter, five of Flynn’s siblings and Trump’s top election fraud lawyer, Jesse Binall. 

The ocean is a motif for Flynn’s battle against political foes. He talks about how he nearly drowned in legal fees to defend himself from charges of lying to the FBI about his meetings with former Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyah in December 2016. He also admitted taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Turkish government while failing to register as an agent of a foreign government. 

Flynn’s legal defense fund, launched in 2017 by his family, evolved into a network of conspiratorial websites and companies, with names like “Digital Soldiers LLC,” a term used by QAnon, and Resilient Patriot LLC. None of those organizations are mentioned in the film. 

“The American people were coming into my life, and there was a moment where I felt like air was being breathed into my lungs instead of being pounded down into the surface of the ocean,” said Flynn. “I’m above the surface and starting to swim to shore.”

“These supportive people, these American people,” his brother Jack Flynn said. “He calls it buddy breathing. Being able to come through financially.”

“If we pull together and we drive this darkness out, then we can touch the whole world,” said his sister Mary O’Neill, identified as a “prayer warrior.”

(This story was reported with support from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation.)

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