THE TV MOVIE "SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden"
WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 8 p.m. on National Geographic Channel
WHAT IT'S ABOUT "In the world, you don't get to live free without working for it," says Stunner (Cam Gigandet), one of the "Six" of a much larger team of SEALS to lead an assault on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where the most wanted man alive is holed up. "It was like the SEALS were waiting for me and I was waiting for them," says Cherry (Anson Mount), another member of the team. Meanwhile, stateside, there is Vivian Hollins (Kathleen Robertson), a CIA analyst who has come to view her obsession with capturing and killing Osama bin Laden as almost a secret affair. She can speak to no one of her obsession but has determined that this affair will end only one way. "We had him and let him go" before, she says. "I don't want to be part of the team that lets him go again." This TV movie about the operation to kill OBL essentially follows three story lines -- the CIA efforts to locate him; the Pakistani operatives who surveil his compound; and the team of SEALs as they train and finally converge on their target.
MY SAY Welcome to the most controversial TV movie of the year, though heaven knows why the controversy. Yes, "SEAL Team Six" does include some footage of President Barack Obama -- the only nonfictional footage here -- and, yes, the film puts the operation in a positive light, though whatever other "light" it should have been put in is impossible to imagine. And, yes, this airs only two days before the election, and that -- say critics -- is Exhibit A in what they charge is a con job designed to boost the president's re-election chances. (Exhibit B: The film is bankrolled by Harvey Weinstein, a major Obama supporter.) Too bad for them this film -- frame for frame, scene for scene -- undercuts their entire argument.
"SEAL Team Six" is a competently produced if somewhat bland TV movie of the week that essentially casts the POTUS as a bit player in the drama. In fact, as configured here -- the film was directed by veteran actor-director John Stockwell -- the real heroes of the raid were grizzled tough guys with an outsized sense of duty and patriotism, known only by names you'd expect to encounter in comic books or maybe "Call of Duty": Sauce, Stunner, Cherry, Trench and Mule.
The other hero is Hollins, who may be based on a real person, or may be a composite, but what is abundantly clear (or not) is this: Her political affiliation is unknown and irrelevant. All she wants to do is bag a monster and she does. In a way, this film is dedicated to her -- and all the other men and women who worked so long to achieve the desired end. That's its chief bias.
BOTTOM LINE Not great, not terrible -- just your standard-issue TV movie about a well-known historic event. Why the fuss?