Tread: Madman or Last Stand? – Netflix Review

I take a look at a documentary about the real-life Killdozer.


Marvin Heemeyer was a welder who lived about 30-45 minutes out of Granby, South Dakota. He owned a muffler shop that subsequently became the focus of a zoning dispute over the construction of a nearby concrete plant. Heemeyer ended up losing and being fined for a number of violations of local ordinances. After perceiving the end of his business and that he had been wronged by the city council and a number of local parties, Heemeyer began building a weapon of revenge. After 18 months of construction, on June 4, 2004, Heemeyer revealed that he had turned a modified Komatsu D355A bulldozer into a makeshift tank and proceeded to go on a rampage that destroyed 13 buildings before he ultimately took his own life. 

Yes, this was a completely bulletproof bulldozer with guns on it.


I was wary of watching this documentary because I was already aware of the actions of Marvin Heemeyer and I have spent way too much time dealing with people who consider him a hero. Their primary argument is always that Heemeyer didn’t successfully kill anyone during his rampage aside from himself and that he was the victim of local politics and powerful people pushing him around. The fact that he’s now become a symbol of inspiration for people seeking a second US Civil War and a symbol of justice for the same people that consider mass-murderer Elliot Rodger to be a hero should say a lot about exactly how valiant his actions really were, in my opinion.  However, the fact remains that he was a man, with friends who miss him and his own issues that led to him getting to this point, so to condemn him as just a monster is to be unfairly dismissive. I don’t think I’ll ever understand someone going to these lengths, particularly for his reasons, but it is important to understand that people will do crazy things when they don’t feel like they have a way out.

Though, a sane plan probably doesn’t destroy this much innocent property.

As the movie started, much of the story seemed to be told from the perspectives of Heemeyer’s friends and from Heemeyer himself, which made me a bit apprehensive. Many of the things that were said clearly seemed to be biased takes on some of the events that almost seemed to excuse his actions. However, the documentary slowly became more objective and started to explain things that had already been addressed earlier, but from the other side. The documentary maintains this balanced viewpoint right up until the actual rampage, at which time it mostly starts to dissect his actions, showing how reckless and malicious they were. They chiefly point out that Heemeyer had absolutely no way of knowing that any of the buildings he went into were empty. Several were evacuated only moments before he drove through them. Moreover, it was only through his own lack of forethought that he was unable to destroy a large number of propane tanks that would have caused a huge explosion, potentially raining shrapnel for miles. 

There’s a decent amount of footage from the incident, naturally.

Just as a brief editorial warning: If you ever decide that something you’re doing can only be justified by believing that “God chose you to do it,” then please, please, pleeeeeease. DO. NOT. DO. IT. 

Overall, honestly a pretty interesting way to address a horrifying event. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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