As many liberal bloggers have complained, there are a number of distortions in the film that shove excessive blame onto the Clinton administration. The movie is also unkind to Bush’s people especially Condoleeza Rice and even Bush himself who, although he isn’t seen, has to be pushed by Cheney into giving the shoot down order.
Interestingly, the movie’s biggest gripe isn’t with Democratic or Republican administrations. It’s with the way in which risk-averse bosses stifle the ambitions and big ideas of their underlings.
The heroes of the film, Richard Clarke and John O’Neill, are repeatedly frustrated in their efforts to kill Bin Laden during the Clinton years. When the Bush administration comes in, it’s nearly impossible to get “the principals” to think about Bin Laden in the months preceding 9/11.
Ironically, the villains deal with the same frustrations as in a scene in which Khalid Sheik Mohammad is told that twenty planes is too many and that he should think smaller.
Those damn bosses. If only they’d just let their staffs do what they want, the respective organizations would be far more successful.
The film itself is tedious beyond description, especially the second half. The pacing in part one is better, but probably only because so many different incidents are covered that it has to move fast.
It’s really not bad until the 1998 embassy bombings at which point the wheels come flying off the cart when a shrieking CIA analyst storms into George Tenet’s office and through bitter tears, blames him and all the other ditherers for not taking action on Bin Laden.
From that point on, it becomes increasingly clear that the movie has a political agenda to sell, which is that Clinton and by association all Democrats are weak on terrorism and partially to blame.
The second half drags as the filmmakers linger on every detail of the days leading up to the attacks at which point they capture the explosions, breaking glass, and terrified faces in a fetishized orgy of slo-mo violence.
The movie was in desperate need of editing, not just for accuracy, but for pacing. An hour and a half could have been cut from this monstrosity and a tightly focused work of entertainment could have been made.
Why anyone would want to be entertained by a depiction of these events is another matter which leads me back to the thought that writer Cyrus Nowrasteh and director David Cunningham may not consider this entertainment but rather document.
As it is, the movie is an overtly political, ponderous, slow, inaccurate, deliberately misleading alternate history of recent events.
Oliver Stone would be proud.