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A decently made...and perhaps unbalanced version of the Waco events
Any time a film is made to represent a true event...whether it's ancient history, historical epic, or more modern it must be taken with a grain of salt because certainly in some way or another it may be biased or not entirely built around the facts. That seems to be one of the big complaints about Ambush in Waco. When I watch a film I look for it to be well made, well acted, and entertaining and if it really blows me away or teaches me something then I usually slap a huge rating on it. I can't slap a huge rating on Ambush in Waco but I can say for what it was worth and for the first film I've ever seen covering the disastrous situation which I can remember being plastered all over the news many years ago...it was good and well made especially for a TV Film because sometimes TV can pretty effectively kill what could have been a great film. I don't imagine the budget was very high and yet they recreated the compound very well and still dealt with a very interesting and disturbing angle of the story. Many also vote that this film was made by and for the ATF to protect them should something go wrong at Waco (which it did), this film went into production before the event was even over. That all may be true so you can look at it as propaganda, but it's still an interesting well made film.
It seems a general consensus that Tim Daly does a great job and I agree. I've always liked Daly and he really does a rather disturbing and moving performance as David Koresh. The guy is maniacal and yet he has this quality about him that makes it believable that he could be followed despite his wild ideas and insane personality and that really is what Koresh and cult leaders are all about. Daly is a powerhouse. The dividian members are all very important to the story although none of them really stand out in their performances. In fact most of them come across as almost zombie like which I think is taking the idea a little too far. They just didn't feel real enough but still they did alright including William O'Leary, Neal McDonough, Gordon Clapp, and Marley Shelton in some of the more significant character roles. I thought Shelton though did a poor job and came across as vapid and robot like in her performance. Dan Lauria, a long time character actor, who I always associate as the emotionally empty Dad from The Wonder Years is pretty good as the head of ATF Unit that first attacks the Waco compound. He is certainly painted as the good guy and has a decent TV movie leading man personality.
Really I think Daly's performance makes this film but the story is decent too. Even if it was made for the perspective of making the ATF look better...it is one side to the story and it's done decently. The film moves at a good pace and does a good job of establishing the main character of Koresh before he was even Koresh and the gradual moving towards the battle with ATF. Director Dick Lowry is the king of TV movies which I think is a good thing. Certainly TV movies are not the same as big screen films or even straight to DVD because they tend to be cheaper and thrown together but Lowry has done a lot of them and I think he tells a good story and does a good job of putting together the important pieces. While I certainly don't think the film told a balanced position I think it's interesting and entertaining and a piece of history. 7/10
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