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Against All Enemies story revealed

AgainstAllEnemies.jpgThere's a walk through of the story of Against All Enemies (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com), the new film from Director Robert Redford which is adapted from the Richard A. Clarke novel which tells the story of his CIA career and primarily his attempts to stop Osama Bin Laden before the September 11th attacks.

The story outline reads well, but there are already a few moments that seem embellished over fact, or if they really did happen, it seems amazing that they did occur this way.

The plot walk through of Against All Enemies over at Latino Review begins with Clarke heading towards the Whitehouse as he's notified of the attacks, his immediate attempts to deal with the immediate situation and to try and bring events under control.

It reads really well, and I can see this being a great Robert Redford film, and tackling some seriously strong issues, but there are a couple of things that stand out for me, and perhaps they are true, or perhaps they've been reworked for the film, I'd have to read the book to be sure.

The first is that when Clarke enters the Whitehouse Condoleezza Rice effectively puts him in charge of the Government!

“We meet dozens of people as Clarke et al. try to figure out and what’s going on who should be in charge – CONDI RICE tells him that the President is in Florida and someone needs to run point. Clarke takes charge and starts talking to the head of the FAA...”

Well I could understand that, but then he starts to issue other commands:

“He tells her [Jane Garvey, FAA] to ground all flights in the U.S...Clarke puts all embassies on high alert and tries to get military cover for major cities...Clarke tries to set up Continuity of Government – making sure that the government runs as normal in safe locations.”

Now it struck me just how much power he had at this point, all the time the President is in Florida and the story takes a while for the Vice President to page Clarke and ask him over to the secure bunker. Shouldn't the Vice President have been running things, is this how it really happened?

Now I've read the 9/11 Commission Report and I'm also surprised to find out that just after the attacks Clarke called the FBI and not only did he find out that al-Qaeda operatives were on the flight manifests, but that they weren't noticed because the CIA didn't tell the FBI – note that this is before the towers collapse – and yet it seems in the Commission Report that this took some time to track down and discover.

Now I may have events wrong, or perhaps Clarke has the true story, however it does seem that somewhere along the line events are being pulled together for the film. I hope I'm wrong because I'd like this to remain as factually correct as possible.

The final issue I had was the description of the moment the film realises the scale of the situation, and I do hope that this is just the write up from memory of reading the script rather than actually how it plays out:

“Clarke takes a detour and steps outside into the Rose Garden. He sees a perimeter of guards, armed to the teeth, guarding the area. F-15s fly over, almost knocking him to the ground.”

F-15s almost knock him to the ground? In the Rose Garden? They'd have to be flying pretty damn low to do that, it has to be dramatic license, I certainly didn't read that they were flying that low.

Has anyone read the book and can comment on these points and the story as a whole? Is the write up of the script plot as per the book? Is Clarke's book factually correct?

Apart from these issues I had with it the opening does sound dramatic, and as the enormity of the situation is revealed the story pulls back to the start of Clarke's career and we begin to see how early he started chasing terrorists and hunting down Osama Bin Laden.

We are apparently going to see the attempts that failed to kill him, and even the attempts to move Clarke out of the way and push the al-Qaeda issue to the background.

Robert Redford could really bring some power to this political tale, let's hope he keeps it slow and factual.



the problem i have with movies like this is that actors and directors, producers and such are in a position of influence more powerful than even the news. Most people haven't seen any real information on the iraq war, for instance, but they've surely seen at least one documentary made by michael moore telling them how to think, and they do.

Robert Redford isn't exactly what you'd call a guy who represents fair and balanced truth. He's a decent man, a good man, and a hell of an actor ( perhapse one of the best?), but this stinks of more of the same for me.

I want to thank you, Richard, as an American living abroad, for writing this article from a very poised and respectable viewpoint. You have a way of writing about this kind of film in a way that makes me actually want to see it, and you know what, i'll go check this one out in theatre, because it does actually sound VERY interesting.

on a side note, not movie related, i sure wish all politicians were noble and trustworthy, so that we never had to even begin to question the motives or capability of those we call our leaders.

Mogulus, huge thanks for the comment, seriously with that one comment you've just made my day/week/month, this is why I write.

You are right though, Redford does let his own political views through in his films, as does every writer and/or director. It would be good to see a totally unbiased view in a film like this, but I don't think we will.

Still rather Redford's view than some others.

You wish all politicians were trustworthy? I wish one was!!

Many thanks again mogulus. That comment means a lot.


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