It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
At what point did I realize "The Ambassador" was an actual documentary, and not a fraud? Perhaps when I realized that everyone in the film was just as dishonest, venal and corrupt as they seemed — including the director. The Danish filmmaker Mads Bruegger stars as Mads Cortzen, a man who does not exist — but who is no more fabricated than every other character in this incredible stunt.
Let's just call him Mads, since both Bruegger and "Cortzen" are running the same real risks. Mads informs us at the outset that one way to get rich is to use a genuine diplomatic passport to travel to a nation like the Central African Republic and carry out a briefcase full of diamonds. Your immunity will get you straight through customs, and you're home free. The way to accomplish this is to use "envelopes of happiness" as bribes, since everyone he meets is happily, even openly, bribable.
He begins in Europe, using two brokers (who are apparently quite real) to line up phony diplomatic credentials from Liberia. He arrives in the Central African Republic, explaining that if the Congo was the "heart of darkness" in Joseph Conrad's words, the CAR is the spleen. There he and his secretary (Eva Jakobsen) obtain a translator and introductions to the minister of state security, relatives of the president and a diamond mine owner named Dalkia Gilbert. Again, all of these people are real.
Mads films them with hidden video mini-cams, which are concealed in walls, furniture, briefcases, clothing — who knows? Sailing through the first part of the film, I assumed it was a mockumentary, and the "hidden cam" footage was a special effect. No. I realized with a chilling certainty that the fearless Mads had actually introduced himself into this situation for the purpose of making this film. It is clear he could easily get himself killed, and the danger he faces is as riveting as the corruption he witnesses. Mads has whatever they call cojones in Denmark.