In the late 1970s, Curtis Sliwa formed crime-fighting posse the Guardian Angels to rescue New York City, then besieged by outlaws, from precipitous decline. His remarkable story is told in this documentary by director David Wexler, who combines amateur video and television clips, stills and interviews with Sliwa himself to vividly document the Angels, in their familiar T-shirts and red berets, as they deployed to the city's ravaged streets and transit systems.
Hollywood's shadow looms over the account. On camera throughout, Sliwa traces his inspiration to vigilante films of the era like Death Wish and Taxi Driver, discussing how the police seized on The Warriors as a way to cast the Angels as yet another gang terrorizing an anxious populace. A riveting storyteller, Sliwa touches on everything from crack cocaine's devastating impact to his defense of notorious subway shooter Bernhard Goetz to his own attempted assassination by none other than crime boss John Gotti Jr. Vigilante emerges as a forceful tribute to community self-defense—as well as a cautionary exposé of civic authority's historical resistance to it (as with Antifa today).
Producer: David Wexler | Editor: Bradford Coleman | Cinematographer: Graham Patterson, Justin Schroepfer
Cast: Curtis Sliwa