The National Geographic Channel made some noise a couple months ago when they announced they would release a movie based on the killing of Osama bin Laden just days before the election. Naturally this made the conservative talking heads explode saying such a movie was a blatant attempt to help President Obama get reelected (or at least they said that right after telling every voter should see 2016: Obama’s America before they vote) because the movie would highlight arguably his greatest (also arguably his only) achievement as president.
Then I heard nothing about the film until the screener for Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden arrived on my doorstep earlier this week. I was a bit surprised is was an actual motion picture and not a documentary with an actual director (alright, the guy who did Into the Blue) and produced by the same guy who produce Hurt Locker ironically the director of that movie has her own bin Laden movie coming out in theaters sometime after the election). It even has recognizable actors although none that really anyone will get too excited for (The eighth most recognizable person from those horrible vampire movies! The dude from that Brittney Spears movie! The guy from Six Feet Under that isn’t Adam Braverman or Dexter Morgan! The Pimp My Ride guy! T-Bag! That chick from Beverly Hills 90210: The College Years! The dude who had sex with Stiffler’s mom! The creepy dude from Invasion!)
The film actually opens in 2002 during an interrogation (sans waterboarding) at Guantanamo Bay but before you think the film is actually ghoing to give any credit to Bush or his administration, they flash forward to 2010 with a CIA operation that looked and felt much like the first two episode of the new season of Homeland but without the crazy operative. The movie spends too much time creating fake back stories for the Seals and keeps the intelligence focused on the mid level employees of the CIA. We never even get to go inside the War Room (aside from the famous picture) and they do not try to recast Obama (the movie does generously feature his speeches and interviews on the subject) or his inner circle; really the only fictionalized version of any recognized figure is a phone call to CIA Director Leon Panetta.
It is hard to watch Seal Team Six without thinking of Zero Dark Thirty, a movie that will probably be much better. It has the director of The Hurt Locker Kathryn Bigelow, with her first movie since winning an Oscar and stars critical darling Jessica Chastain along with Coach Eric Taylor, Tony Soprano, and Bright Abbott. If you are only going to see one Osama bin Laden movie, you will probably want to wait until the end of the year. But for those that cannot wait, the as slowly paced nd thrown together as Seal Team Six is, the actual raid does get you on the edge of your seat even though you already know how it ends.
And for those conspiracy theorist who think Harvey Weinstein released his film two days before his buddy was up for reelection, when it comes down to it, Seal Team Six will probably have the same amount of impact on the presidential elections as 2016: Obama’s America did: zero. If want to rant on something that will actually change the outcome of the presidential race, just look outside and say hello to Sandy.
Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden premieres Sunday at 8:00 on The National Geographic Channel. Check out the trailer below: