Since this movie about the killing of Osama bin Laden has become one of those projects people have opinions about before seeing, let's get a few facts out there.
“SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden,” premiering on National Geographic Channel at 6 p.m. Sunday is a fine, taut film. It is not, despite the buzz among some in the blogosphere, a political statement.
It is from producer Harvey Weinstein, a well-known Democrat. But even a Hollywood mogul cannot change the fact that bin Laden was killed on President Barack Obama's watch.
“We didn't consult anybody political,” Weinstein says. “We used historians that were apolitical. And we spoke to people from the SEALs, who were not political, not somebody who went on the mission. Just the whole idea was to make it not political. It was vetted by people in the CIA as well — not Democrats.”
Weinstein, known for movies such as “Shakespeare in Love” and “The Artist,” went with a TV release instead of a theatrical one because, he says, “We were going to do 3,000 theaters. National Geographic and Netflix made us an offer we couldn't refuse.”
This marks NatGeo's first foray into feature films.
The timing, two days before the election, is “certainly topical,” Weinstein says. It doesn't hurt that this also beats, by about six weeks, another movie about the killing of bin Laden.
“This is the best of ‘The Bourne Identity' meets a supergreat documentary,” the producer says. “And the most important is it's a superpatriotic movie. That is what it's about — our tribute to the armed forces, and American forces so we could take out one of the great villains of our lifetime.”
Weinstein talks about the fine work the intelligence and armed forces did in finding and killing bin Laden. He points to a composite character in the film, Vivian.
“Vivian is the only female working on the team,” says Kathleen Robertson (“Boss”) of her character. “She is a senior counterintelligence analyst. Her identity is very much wrapped up in her job. She has sacrificed everything for what she does for a living.”
The film, which also stars Anson Mount (“Hell on Wheels”),William Fichtner (“Entourage”), Cam Gigandet (“Priest”) and Xzibit (“8 Mile”), does an excellent job of taking an event we think we know very well and giving more insight into the behind-the-scenes machinations. Far trickier is that it successfully spins such a tight tale of suspense; viewers will find themselves anxious despite, of course, knowing the outcome.