Ruppert briefly recounts his life including his parents’ ties to U.S. intelligence agencies and Ruppert’s own career as an LAPD beat cop and detective. Ruppert then summarizes current energy and economic issues, focusing mainly around the core concepts of peak oil and sustainable development. He also criticizes fiat money, fractional reserves, leveraging, and discusses CIA drug trafficking.
The bulk of the film presents Ruppert making an array of predictions including social unrest, violence, population dislocation and governmental collapses in the United States and throughout the world. He draws on the same news reports and data available to any Internet user, but he applies a unique interpretation — “connecting the dots” as he calls it.
Smith periodically stops Ruppert to question his assumptions and provide a note of skepticism.
After its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly called Collapse “one of the few true buzz films of the festival” and wrote that “you may want to dispute (Ruppert), but more than that you’ll want to hear him, because what he says — right or wrong, prophecy or paranoia — takes up residence in your mind.”
Daily Variety wrote that Collapse was “unnervingly persuasive much of the time, and merely riveting when it’s not, Ruppert’s talking-head analysis gets the Errol Morris treatment from director Chris Smith (American Movie), whose intellectual horror film ranks as another essential work.”
The Onion’s AV Club wrote that “in several immensely poignant moments, we can also see an angry, lonely, vulnerable man whose life epitomizes the title as much as the globe does. There are many layers to the man and the movie, and I for one left the theater shaken.”
Roger Ebert wrote, “I don’t know when I’ve seen a thriller more frightening. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the screen. “Collapse” is even entertaining, in a macabre sense. I think you owe it to yourself to see it.”