We’ll never know who actually killed Osama bin Laden. But we’re about to get some actual Navy SEALs to use as hero-worship stand-ins. It turns out Kathryn Bigelow wasn’t the only person with a thematically-appropriate movie in the works — Relativity Media just announced that they’re distributing Act of Valor, a movie shot largely in secret with access to a SEAL squad brokered by the Navy. Actual SEALs star in the movie, and the events, which surround the rescue of a CIA operative.
I’ve got mixed feelings about this. It’s probably not going to be a stellar thing for our reassessment of our relationship with Pakistan if the American box office goes huge for a movie that sounds like it’s celebrating Ray Davis’s release. Also, with how The Unit worked out, I’m somewhat suspicious of movies that the military is psyched about and signed off on. I imagine the action sequences are pretty gripping, but they could also end up being in the service of some pretty rotten politics. And as much as I respect members of the U.S. military, I’m way more into their ability to carry out precision operations to take out mass murderers than their ability to act with any sort of depth or nuance.
But we’re going to get a lot of Navy SEALs movies and a lot of movies about killing major terrorists. Most of them are probably going to be bad, and to have pretty rotten geopolitics. The power of September 11 is that it created a consensus-free zone. Our entertainment about it—especially when the closest thing we have to a win is the death of one man—is no exception.