The American military hunt for Bin Laden
Published: 13 December, 2012
by DAN CARRIER
Directed by John Stockwell
Rating: 2 Out Of 5 Stars
IT was one of the defining moments of the year.
US soldiers drop by helicopter into a town in Pakistan, blow open the doors of a compound, race through the no-frills concrete building, shooting anyone in the way, and kill Osama Bin Laden.
We were treated to shots of President Obama and his advisers watching the drama unfold on the telly. Now, unsurprisingly, the first of many, many films telling the story of what happened that day is on our screens.
Codename: Geronimo – named after the operation – was screened on the US TV networks in the weeks before the election. It ends with President Obama announcing to the nation their number one foe was dead.
It has been credited with helping him win vital votes.
Whatever the truth of this is, this film about what happened veers wildly from being a dramatic consideration, to how the operation came about, to a study of the personalities of the men tasked with putting it into action.
We learn that some of the team in the CIA and in the Seals themselves were directly affected by that horrible morning in 2001. Lost loved ones are remembered. But this isn’t done in a cheesy way, and, for a made-for-US-TV film, it is remarkably underplayed.
Yes, this is gung-ho and macho, this is about a team of Navy Seals getting into a helicopter, going into Pakistan and shooting dead the man ultimately deemed responsible for the defining terrorist attack of a generation. But it is saved by various moments: the two agents working in Pakistan who have to quietly and diligently spy on the suspected compound make for the better scenes. A thankless task, well portrayed.
There are discussions among CIA agents in Langley trying to work out whether it really is Bin Laden, and whether it is acceptable to simply demolish the building with all inside with a big bomb or send in troops offers an escape from the gun-toting.
It has some incredibly annoying nuances: we are treated to endless footage as seen through the head-cameras of the killers, as if we are locked in some kind of computer shoot-em-up nightmare. Perhaps this is a point being made about modern society and our exposure to violence that means all life is seen as expendable and cheap.
If that’s the case, it is a terrible way to make it.
Also, to increase the tension, we have a rather hammy love triangle going on between the commander of the group and one of his comrades.
But, for all of its failings, it helped Obama win a second term (according to American conservatives), and if it got up their noses, then that is a saving grace.