After the abduction by the US military of an Islamic religious leader, New York City becomes the target of escalating terrorist attacks. Anthony Hubbard, the head of the FBI's Counter-Terrorism Task Force in New York, teams up with CIA operative Elise Kraft to hunt down the terrorist cells responsible for the attacks. As the bombings continue, the US government responds by declaring martial law, sending US troops, led by Gen. Devereaux, into the streets of New York City. Written by
Karen Eiler <email@example.com>
This film, made in 1998, is so close to the reality of Sept. 11, 2001 that it sends chills down your spine. Although events played out differently, so many elements in the film are near-mirror reflections of the reality. The attacks are carried out by Islamic extremists, whose core network were trained by the CIA, their attacks were dramatic and centered on New York City, there was little cooperation between, the FBI, CIA and military, and Arabs and Arab-Americans were rounded up in large numbers, or were subjected to harassment and violence. The images of bodies and debris are no less shocking than the sight of people jumping to their death from the World Trade Center. Torture was employed by US soldiers, in pursuit of terrorists. With all of that said, even had the attacks of Sept. 11th not occurred, this would still be a tremendous film.
Director Ed Zwick and actor Denzell Washington team up once again for a great one-two punch. Denzell brings great humanity to his role as an FBI agent, charged with counter-terrorism operations and investigations. He is aided by Tony Shalhoub, who delivers another great performance and some of the best lines. Annette Benning displays her talent as a CIA operative at the heart of the whole crisis. Roger Deacons adds his wonderful cinematography, and Bruce Willis turns in a fine performance as an over-zealous army general.
The film delivers a cautionary tale about extreme reactions to terror and the loss of freedoms that can result from acting in anger, rather than with reason and law. The rounding up of citizens, as depicted in the film, and the declarations of martial law, are not that far away from the provisions of the Patriot Act, which violates First Amendment rights, the right to privacy, and the right to due process. The film suggests that by giving up these rights, or stripping them away, we become the very thing that our enemies claim we are. It suggests that that may be the terrorists true aim.
This is not a crystal ball prediction of 9/11; but it is a fine thriller. The filmmakers did their homework and got quite a bit right. They also extrapolated things to an extreme, but not an implausible one. However, they delivered an excellent film, and one that should be seen and studied.
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