Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sundance - Manhunt - 3 stars

This is a documentary about the search for Osama Bin Laden.  It's an interesting movie to watch after you see Zero Dark Thirty.

I felt like the movie started out really slowly.  I want facts and information from a documentary, and this movie takes its time giving those out.  The first part of the movie focuses on showing us the women who were hunting for Bin Laden before anyone else knew his name.  We learn more about their jobs than we do the facts of the investigation at first.

I don't know how much classified information had to be left out, but there is at least one scene where one of the subjects can't answer a question.  There isn't anything the filmmakers can do about that, but it's still frustrating knowing that there are details to this story that can't be told.

I forgot that a CNN crew interviewed Bin Laden in the mid '90s.  It's interesting to see the footage and hear the reporters talk about meeting Bin Laden.  It's also interesting to learn that Bin Laden declared war on America and no one noticed.

The movie touches on a lot of themes that it doesn't explore.  I guess the movie would be far too long if they did, but I really wanted to hear more about their views on torture.  The CIA analysts and other interview subjects reveal that no useful information came from torture, and that all the valuable information came from traditional interrogation methods.  But this is glossed over pretty quickly.  I also liked the message at the end about how it's important to try and understand why the terrorists hate us, because killing Bin Laden doesn't mean there won't be another terrorist attack.

There is mention of the Iraq war, but not much.  It would have been interesting to hear whether the war made it harder to find Bin Laden.  Also, when they talk about the CIA black sites, it would have been nice to hear about whether innocent people were sent there under the assumption that they were terrorists.  This movie makes it seem like everyone who was interrogated was an Al Qaeda member.

This movie could have been much tighter and more focused, but there is enough good information in there to recommend it.

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