How A Guy Who Looked Like A Crazed Gunman Drove Me Crazy At The New Star Wars Movie

Star Wars,Film,The Dark Knight Rises

By midnight, on the opening night of Rogue One, the new Star Wars movie, I felt dizzy with adrenaline. My fight-or-flight response had little to do with the sci-fi drama unfolding on screen, and everything to do with the guy sitting next to me. He looked and seemed to be acting as if he’d been sent from central casting to play a mass shooter, like, say, the gunman who killed a dozen people four years ago and injured many more in Aurora, Colo., at a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, then the latest Batman sequel. As I settled into my seat, I first noticed this guy’s camouflage pants — no big deal, since camo is often less about function than fashion, but his side pockets bulged. With what, I could not tell. But that fact, too, I might have dismissed, if not for the odd black satchel he clutched in his lap. He also had earbud-style headphones on, and he wore a bulky black bomber jacket — another case of military garb as fashion, or...? While most patrons were easing into their La-Z-Boy-like seats, taking advantage of the electronic reclining control and footrest, the guy next to me, who appeared to be in his 30s, kept sitting up straight, on the edge of his cushy recliner, cradling that satchel. He had an aisle seat, to my right, and he was alone. It had been a busy day in my personal gig economy, and now I just wanted to relax and enjoy this movie with my son, who sat to my left. I really wanted to believe that this guy next to me was just some eccentric but good-natured character, the kind I have encountered many times in many places, and certainly around Santa Monica, where we were about to see Rogue One — and in a theater full of Star Wars devotees you’d expect to find at least a few characters. The lights went down and in addition to the usual public service announcements about turning off cell phones and not talking during the movie, there was one along the lines of “If You See Something, Say Something,” a safety campaign that originated in New York City after 9/11 and has since been adopted by the Department of Homeland Security. As the previews began, this guy left his seat, heading to the back of the theater. By now curious and somewhat...

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