Code Name: Geronimo - The Hunt for Osama bin Laden
Director: John Stockwell
Starring: William Fichtner, Kathleen Robertson, Freddy Rodriguez
Still best known for his babes and bikinis surf movie Blue Crush, John Stockwell has surprisingly beaten Kathryn Bigelow out of the traps with a film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. But while her Zero Dark Thirty looks set to lift Oscars, this solid made-for-TV effort will soon be forgotten.
The film efficiently juggles events at CIA HQ, Virginia, where the planning took place, with a surveillance team in Pakistan trying to identify Bin Laden, and the Navy SEALS (unknowingly) preparing for the raid on the Al Qaeda leader's Abbottabad compound. We get a sense of the high political stakes, domestically and geopolitically, and of what the soldiers personally have to lose.
And in case we're in any doubt, Obama reminds us at the end that the raid was an American operation, performed by Americans, protecting American values. Those values were compromised in the hunt by the use of torture - graphically portrayed in Zero Dark Thirty but not mentioned by these filmmakers.
However, this failure to engage with the moral complexity of the War on Terror is in keeping with the general one-dimensionality of the film, which although occasionally exciting, feels like a seat-warmer for Bigelow's more thorough and provocative account.