Bin Laden film just in time for US vote

2012-11-02 12:01

Washington - Timing is everything in show business, but the director of the first movie about the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden doubts its television premiere on Sunday will swing the US election.

Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden raised eyebrows when it was announced last month that it would screen for the first time on the National Geographic cable channel just two days before America votes.

Fueling the buzz was the fact that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, a prominent fundraiser for President Barack Obama, is the distributor and one of the executive producers of the 90-minute action thriller.

In an interview on Thursday, director John Stockwell shrugged off suggestions that his film is some kind of prime-time Obama propaganda tool to sway voters less than 48 hours before polls open.

"It was never written or shot to do that," he said.

"Are there people out there who don't know that it was on this president's watch that Osama bin Laden was killed, and that this movie informs them of that? I would be surprised."

Archive footage

The daring May 2011 dead-of-night operation by US Navy Seals against the al-Qaeda leader who ordered the 9/11 attacks was a defining moment of Obama's first term.

The president turns up often in the film, which was shot in Khopoli, India and Santa Fe, New Mexico, but only in the form of archive footage - much of it pulled from the White House website.

Cam Gigandet, a vampire tracker in Twilight, stars as the leader of the tight-knit Seal team that also includes rapper Xzibit. Kathleen Robertson, from the original Beverly Hills, 90210 series, portrays an intense CIA analyst.

Inexplicably uncredited are Bollywood stars Maninder Singh and Rajesh Shringarpore, who play local CIA operatives who risk their lives staking out Obama's fortified lair in Pakistan.

Cast as bin Laden is Yon Kempton, who speaks no lines before he is shot twice and killed in a dark room with a Kalashnikov in his hand.

Stockwell, whose previous credits include the 2002 surfer girl movie Blue Crush, said it was the National Geographic Channel - part of conservative Rupert Murdoch's media empire - that picked Sunday as the premiere date.


"It has only one goal, and that is for as many people as possible to watch this," added Robertson, speaking by telephone from New York. "They want ratings."

The film goes on to Netflix streaming video on Monday, then cinemas from Thursday, in a 180-degree reversal of the way a movie usually goes out into the world.

Seal Team Six also precedes another film about the hunt for bin Laden: Zero Dark Thirty by director Kathryn Bigelow, who collected the best-film Academy Award in 2009 for the Iraq war movie The Hurt Locker.

Sony Pictures has pushed back its general release to January 2013, but like Seal Team Six it's been lambasted before anyone's seen it as glorifying Obama's role in bin Laden's demise.

Stockwell called Bigelow "a very talented filmmaker", but added that her production - with a bigger budget, judging by its YouTube trailer - is "probably a very different movie".

Ironically, the French producer of "Seal Team Six", Nicolas Chartier, was a producer of The Hurt Locker.

Internal conflict

Stockwell spoke to current and former Seals, intelligence personnel and White House officials as part of his research, but only off the record, with no way to double-check their information.

"I certainly had no official co-operation and I had no official access to anything," said Stockwell, who goes to Puerto Rico this weekend to direct mixed martial arts champ Gina Carano in In the Blood, an action thriller.

"The fascinating thing for me... was how much internal conflict there was within the intelligence community, within the White House and the Department of Defense, and all the ways it could have turned out badly."

Much of Seal Team Six was filmed before the publication in August of No Easy Day, written under a pseudonym by a member of the real-life Seal team who claimed that bin Laden was unarmed when he was killed.

"We know the ending [of the operation to kill bin Laden], but even to this day I don't have certainty on the beginning and the middle," Stockwell said.

"The truth is, 10 years from now, we may not know the entire story of this mission... Who's to say what the real, completely factual version is?"

Meanwhile, Robertson - currently starring in the TV series Boss, a political drama set in Chicago - admitted to being somewhat bemused by the furore that's erupted over the release of Seal Team Six.

"I've been asked a lot of American politically-based questions which I feel slightly odd answering," she said, "because I'm Canadian."

  • derek.bredenkamp.3 - 2012-11-02 12:15

    Makes me want to vomit. A movie glorifying extra judicial murder.

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-11-02 14:07

      Take out one man to potentially save thousands - what's wrong with that? Plus, it's war against terrorism, killing happens.

      andrew.arnesen - 2012-11-02 14:18

      And it is totally faked in any case... Just pure propaganda glorifying the US bully-boy tactics. Makes me want turn in my civilization card...

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-02 15:47

      It was an act of war against someone who declared and waged war against the US, killing thousands of American citizens. The criminal justice system does not come into play.

  • Litha Thando Yono Ka-Zola - 2012-11-02 12:43

    yup, no respect for any nations sovereignty..cross borders,kill people..because we can..morally bankrupt..

      Desilusionada - 2012-11-02 13:01

      Yup You're so right. No respect, Cross America's Borders, into a plane and into a building, kill people...because we hate..morally bankrupt... Below please find a list of building into which Americans flew into, using hi-jacked planes. .

      derek.bredenkamp.3 - 2012-11-02 13:59

      @Delusioned - they still have not proved who did it or answered the most important question - why. All they ever looked for was revenge.

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-11-02 14:08

      Derek, have you had your head up your @$$ for the past decade? Idiot.

      andrew.arnesen - 2012-11-02 14:57

      At @Stirrer - You obviously haven't - probably been glued to CNN, Fox News, Sky, etc...

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-02 15:49

      What are you talking about? Bin Laden was directly responsible for the deaths and maimings of hundreds of thousands of people. On 9/11 alone he killed 3,000 people from 90 countries.

      diana.gill.18 - 2012-11-02 16:13

      Oh yes, they stop at nothing to even kill their own citizens if it gives them reason to expand their oil businesses. What is the cost of 3000 lives if it brings you profit of countless billions in dollars, or at least they believed so.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-02 16:35

      I imagine you'd feel totally differently, far less self righteous, we're Dunkie and your son among those who fell 90 stories to their deaths on 9/11, or were decapitated by Bin Laden's crazed men.

  • Eterni80 - 2012-11-02 13:01

    america has always been about the money and the power using whatever tools are at their disposal to facilitate clinging to power and acquiring wealth. when are they gonna make a comprehensive movie about how America bankrupted the work with its sub-prime BS ? if we can put one american on the moon, why can't we put them all there ?

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-02 15:50

      Time to educate yourself a bit more and get out into the world.

      shannon.wright.9887 - 2012-11-02 20:08

      Eterni80, all's fair in politics, and criticism of American policies is fine--game on. It's a bridge too far to insult an entire nation of people and suggest they shouldn't exist. I've read quite a bit lately about corruption in SA government and how you've got one of the worst education systems in the world, but somehow I didn't make the leap to "All South Africans are stupid illiterates, dishonest and evil. I wonder if we can just expand Kruger Park to cover the entire useless country."

      duncan.gill1 - 2012-11-02 21:41

      Naah!The Chinese will beat them to it..they want only to spend money on being biggest bully on the block...and haven't noticed that the other kids have moved away to better neighborhood!

  • ryan.holland.395454 - 2012-11-02 13:06

    Nice to see that some liberals can bite back even if our ranks have been mostly overrun by the Judean People's Front.

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-11-02 14:08


      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-02 15:50

      The Life of Bryan.

      duncan.gill1 - 2012-11-02 21:48

      They are fighting ryan.holland can't go down without a ways that would be sacrilege!Keep up the good work you liberals that don"t belong to the Judean People's Front..we stand right behind you!!!

  • allhaleto.theale - 2012-11-02 13:27

    Bwahahaha, "Obama's fortified lair in Pakistan"

      allhaleto.theale - 2012-11-02 16:07

      Guess the thumbs down clown along with News24 missed it as well.......Perhaps it should be Osama not Obama??

      duncan.gill1 - 2012-11-02 21:50

      HA HA HA he knew you were talking about him..ha ha ha ha ha ha...chortle smirk...gasp!!

  • allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-11-02 14:28

    "Who's laughing now clown !"

  • diana.gill.18 - 2012-11-02 16:14

    Yawn, The Avengers is turning into a massive franchise?

  • dave.ducker.3 - 2012-11-02 18:40

    People please consider the following before praising this film... Yep Bin Laden killed people in the most horrendous way but... the USA over the years has got much more blood on their hands than Bin Laden. The US trained and supplied arms to Iraq when they were fighting against Iran, they done the same with Afghanistan when they were fighting the Russians. Both leaders stopped listening to the US then they both got invaded ! So my point is yes Bin Laden guilty as charged but the real monster is actually the US and their cronies !!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-02 18:43

      Simple and faulty thinking.

      ryan.holland.395454 - 2012-11-02 19:55

      You forgot to mention all the blood on their hands while helping the Allies defeat the Nazis. Chump.

  • ryan.holland.395454 - 2012-11-02 18:59

    Essentialism at it's most pristine.

  • dave.ducker.3 - 2012-11-02 21:26

    @ Ryan your comment about the blood on their hands whilst helping the allies against the Nazi's can not be compared to what they have been up to stirring the pot "outside" of a world war. Backing, supporting and causing uprising's in Libya, Egypt and Syria etc.. and Fred if anyone has simply faulty thinking then it is the people whom have been brain washed in thinking that the good old US of A are actually the good guys, they are just as bad if not worse than the rest of them. Go do some fact finding and stop trolling.....

      ryan.holland.395454 - 2012-11-02 22:28

      The problem here is that I know too much about this. It's far too nuanced to be put down to Good Guy, Bad Guy mentality. Over all, my support would go with USA (with all their failings) and the secular leftist Arabs who seem to be sidelined at every opportunity but are real and hold many of the same values as I do. This demonizing of USA by simple postmortem head count

  • duncan.gill1 - 2012-11-02 21:37

    Hey...!Look for most Yanks the latest blockbuster is far more real then what's happening in the world right now...probably due to all the spin they have been subjected to over the last decade or so..can't quite blame them for finding their electoral inspiration from watching a movie..well anyway that's what the powers that be think!Wonder why?...a bit like how the ANC thinks about its electorate..perhaps!!To much of a co-incidence methinks!

  • keith.peacock.184 - 2012-11-03 11:49

    Sorry I know News 24 has a sense of humour but referring to "Obama's fortified lair in Pakistan" is "Mitty" awful. do you have subs?

  • maureen.churchill.9 - 2012-11-06 15:31

    Can't win without pulling strings hey Mr O. Nobody saw the body, it was dropped into the sea straight after his demise, sure we saw pictures of a man with his head and face blown in, BUT was this a set-up for this election. Low blow?

  • pages:
  • 1