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Netflix‘s new original series, ReMastered, aims to provide in-depth views into pivotal moments of music legends’ stories—events that would alter (or end) their careers or lives. But the eight-episode run is off to a middling start, as seen in the passable ReMastered: Who Shot The Sheriff?, which chronicles the circumstances and the fallout of an attempted assassination of the Jamaican musician and cultural figure, Bob Marley.
Director Kief Davidson takes viewers into Jamaica’s dirty politics during the Cold War, including the violent rivalry between the Edward Seaga, who led the conservative Jamaica Labour Party, and Micheal Manley, who led the social-democratic People’s National Party. (Marley eventually got the political rivals to join hands during the 1978 One Love Peace Concert.) The doc examines Seaga and the CIA’s alleged involvement in the 1976 assassination attempt of Marley, who sustained minor gunshot wounds to the arm and chest.
While it’s never made clear why he’d set up his own house as neutral haven, Marley showed a willingness to entertain diverse political ideas and those not necessarily on the right side of the law (which usually circled back to Jamaican politics). His readiness to mediate, though, displayed a naivety in his belief that he shouldn’t have to pick sides. This belief nearly cost him his life, but it further informed his musical output. Davidson illuminates Marley’s increased efforts for world peace and liberation of the African diaspora following the attempt on his life.
The biggest downfall of Who Shot The Sheriff? comes from who’s not available—specifically, Marley’s family members. A former girlfriend and his lawyer are the closest the viewer gets, which is problematic considering the gravity of the assassination attempt. Secondly, the mixture of tones—from uplifting to Robert Stack-era Unsolved Mysteries—adds a layer of unintentional cheese to the proceedings.
Davidson has made an attractive film with excellent use of archival footage to show Marley’s musical impact. But ReMastered: Who Shot The Sheriff? ultimately solves little, and the film often sinks into a history lesson on Jamaica’s muddled politics. The documentary identifies a possible shooter: Lester “Jim Brown” Coke, founder of the drug-smuggling Shower Posse gang and Seaga’s bodyguard. While the film eventually wheels back to Marley’s global impact, it leaves viewers with more questions than answers about everyone involved—including Marley.
Need more ideas? Here are our Netflix guides for the best war movies, documentaries, anime, indie flicks, true crime, food shows, gangster movies, Westerns, and movies based on true stories streaming right now. There are also sad movies guaranteed to make you cry, weird movies to melt your brain, and standup specials when you really need to laugh. Or check out Flixable, a search engine for Netflix.
Kahron Spearman is a music and film critic whose work can also regularly be regularly found in the Austin Chronicle.