The Siege

Dir: Edward Zwick
Starring: Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, Tony Shalhoub, Bruce Willis

Sometimes, a film's impact is made much greater by subsequent events, and The Siege is a perfect example. A concerted Arab terrorist campaign in New York, leading to the suppression of human rights, seemed far-fetched when the film came out in 1998, but now... Just listen to talk radio, with people advocating rounding up the towelheads, and then there's the woefully-misnamed Patriot Act. The script (by Lawrence Wright, Menno Meyjes and Zwick) seems eerily prescient these days, especially the revelation that we funded and trained the bad guys to fight our enemies. Ouch. There's not much new in the characters - Washington is the heroic FBI guy, Bening the ambivalent CIA agent, Shalhoub the decent, law-abiding Arab, and Willis the army man who believes "by any means necessary". Nor am I sure the ending makes a great deal of sense, drifting as it does towards Die Hard 3 territory, with lots of running round New York. But in super-patriotic post-9/11 America, Washington's impassioned pleas for freedom now have a subversive edge, the sight of troops marching across the Brooklyn Bridge to enforce martial law is frankly chilling, and the thought that the World Trade Center might just be the start is hugely discomforting. Worse still, it's no longer implausible.


All quiet on the Eastern Front
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