A Bollywood director is hired by an American talent agent to make a film on Osama bin Laden. The plan to use an Osama doppelganger in order to prove his death boomerangs when a Taliban arms dealer hijacks their idea to prove he's alive.
When I started watching this I didn't expect to learn anything I hadn't already read about and so went into it with low expectations. But from the moment Barak Obama turned up talking about what he was seeing and having to make decisions on, it was obvious this was going to be far more revealing than expected.
Put together through a series of interviews with the principles, archive footage, computer animations and reconstructions. The entire intelligence manhunt is presented with a sense of ever increasing tension as the search narrows down to a single building in Pakistan.
When Obama first appeared I suddenly felt cynical, bracing myself for a propaganda piece in an election year, however it only took a short time to allay these fears. This isn't propaganda, it's simply the story well told. In fact, the film makers seem to have taken steps to avoid it being labeled as a political piece. Anything we know from the story that is contentious (Did Osama hide behind his wife, for example) is skipped.
The interviews are brilliant. The politicians and intelligence analysts give their first hand account; and whilst not speaking to any of the military personnel who took part in the raid, the retired Seal Team Six members explaining training, tactics and mindset is more than adequate. A real plus point is Mike Durrant, the captured helicopter pilot in Black Hawk Down, is interviewed to explain how and why the helicopter crashed and what the soldiers were doing in that situation. But without doubt the ace in the hole is having the first sit down interview with Obama on how he perceived it and how he came to make the decision to attack.
My only real criticism is the film makers at times made the military action look like a video game. Anyone who's played Modern Warfare will recognise the slow-motion take-down technique used for the fatal shooting of Bin Laden. Throughout the picture the film makers allow the drama of the event tell the story whereas the stylized action scenes feel like they're pushing to increase the drama.
All in all this is gripping and exciting stuff that at times will have you living the moment with sustained tension.
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