Taking place over the hours preceding and following the tragic Dec. 8, 1980, shooting outside the New York City co-op the Dakota, “The Lennon Report” is a wobbly dramatization of events purportedly surrounding the last day in the life of John Lennon as seen through the eyes of an “Eyewitness News” producer.
As fate would have it, WABC’s Alan Weiss (played by Walter Vincent) had been admitted to Manhattan’s Roosevelt Hospital with injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident shortly before the arrival of the mortally injured Lennon — referred to by staff as John Doe in a bid to protect his identity — and soon after, a grief-stricken Yoko Ono (Karen Tsen Lee).
This being before the era of smartphones, Weiss’ efforts to break the biggest story of his career involved bribing a janitor to call the newsroom on the hospital phone while he was confined to a gurney.
Meanwhile a young ER doctor (Evan Jonigkeit) struggles feverishly to resuscitate “the voice of his youth” lying lifelessly on his operating table.
Given the recollections of the actual individuals involved who show up in the film’s end credits, first-time director and co-writer Jeremy Profe might have been wiser to opt for a nonfiction approach rather than hackneyed, carved-out-of-soap characterizations and trite workplace banter that strains at sounding natural.
Despite the admittedly unique angle, this ambitious drama gets crushed under the considerable weight of its artistic, as well as budgetary, limitations.
‘The Lennon Report’
Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills.