Hulu, considered to by many as a smaller potato in the basket of streaming movie companies, has announced an upcoming original drama series, The Looming Tower. It is a cloak and dagger movie about internal cloak and dagger events between the CIA and FBI prior to the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers. The quote, “Your government has failed you” is the storyline as the movie looks into how these two government intelligence agencies worked against one another for years prior to the 9/11 attacks.
More than 15 years later the government’s failure to come clean about how much they knew and when, has been fuel for conspiracy theories. This movie may be seen giving some support to the theories but is only presenting what has been discovered in a dramatic fashion. For example, stating that there were only 8 Arabic speaking FBI agents in an agency that had a total of 10,000 is a simple reality that can be seen as purposeful or incompetent.
But thankfully, The Looming Tower is not a documentary. Based on the book “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11”, it focuses on the pursuit of FBI Special Agent John O’Neill of Osama bin Laden whose efforts are complicated by the interagency rivalry between the FBI and the CIA. The failure of the United States intelligence system is well-known and this movie is likely to exacerbate that fact for people who prefer movies to books.
The book supplies more information about bin Laden than perhaps many people prefer to know (especially now since he has been dead for several years). The trailer to the series seems to happily focus more on the interagency conflicts than making bin Laden the afterlife star. Given the current state of politics in America and the splintered body politic, the timing of this movie may be a fuel for success beyond its original expectations. Whether The Looming Tower can pique the interest of more people than the conspiracy theorists is something we will have to wait on.
We can hope this movie is both informative and entertaining because any additional information about the inner workings (or non-workings) of our intelligence community seems to be beating a dead horse and is only gives fuel to the conspiracy theorists. Despite all the political wrangling that continues to go on in Washington D.C., there is little to fault about the plethora of national intelligence agencies. There is a slight shift in focus that appears to be on home grown terrorism in the form of mass shootings.
There clearly has been an interest by actors in this series, as Jeff Daniels takes the lead role as Agent O’Neill, with Peter Sarsgaard (Wormwood and Black Mass), Tahar Rahim (A Prophet), Bill Camp (The Night Of and Hostiles), Wrenn Schmidt (Person of Interest and The Good Catholic), and Michael Stuhlbarg (Fargo and The Shape of Water) all can be seen throughout the series. The book has earned a Pulitzer Prize, so if Hulu can get half of that critical recognition it will be well on its way to a successful and happy New Year.