Starring: Jeff Daniels, Tahar Rahim, Peter Sarsgaard, Wrenn Schmidt, Bill Camp, Michael Stuhlbarg, Louis Cancelmi, Virginia Kull, Ella Rae Peck, Sullivan Jones
Created By: Dan Futterman, Alex Gibney, Lawrence Wright
Studio: Hulu / Warner Bros
Buy On Amazon.com
Looming Tower is both an excellent and beyond frustrating miniseries. The series shows the events that lead to 9/11 which is why it’s frustrating and heartbreaking. If you can take watching this, you should.
The miniseries streamed on Hulu and it’s about the events leading up to 9/11. It shows us the rising threat of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda in the late 1990s. The rivalry between the FBI and CIA and refusing to work with each other may have lead to 9/11. The show focuses on “I-49 Squad” in NYC and “Alec Station” in DC. John O’Neill (Jeff Daniels) is the Chief of the NY Counterterrorism Center and a patriot who did everything he could to protect the country. The first episode sees Muslim Lebanese-American FBI agent Soufan (Tahar Rahim) join John’s team and he dives headfirst into interrogating terrorists and finding out about future attacks on US targets. Unfortunately, FBI and CIA didn’t do enough to stop 9/11.
I watched this before September 11th of this year so it was a bit rough to watch the last few episodes. I guess watching this anytime would make it rough to watch. The series was excellent and really interesting but annoying to see how things were done back then. Basic human error caused this to go all the way and that’s what is frustrating about it. The fact that this could have been prevented if only if the government agencies got along and actually talked to each other. Not sure if anything changed after 9/11 but I certainly hope so for all our sake.
The show itself was a span over many years since it covers bombings of first WTC, Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings, Cole bombing and then 9/11. The characters were intriguing, especially since they are based on real people. I particularly thought Jeff Daniels as John O’Neill and Tahar Rahim as Agent Soufan were excellent. Bill Camp was great as well and he’s been on my radar since he was awesome in The Night Of. Peter Sarsgaard plays jerks well and he certainly played one on the miniseries. His character is based on CIA Officer Michael Scheuer and isn’t particularly a real person. Michael Stuhlbarg as Richard Clark was perfect as well.
I think what works about the show is showing both sides of things. You see how the asshole terrorists were conspiring and training for 9/11. It’s a bit tough to watch for me, particularly since the actor that plays Mohamed Atta looks spot-on. I kind of liked how they didn’t show a lot of the 9/11 stuff because we already knew what happened and didn’t want to beat us over the head with it. I was impressed with how they re-created World Trade Center though. The show focuses on a few of the characters involved and how they react to it. It works more effectively to it. I’d be very interested in another series or season based on some of the surviving characters or if they focus on the War on Terror. Lots of stuff they could work with if Hulu wants another season/series.
The Blu-Ray contains commentaries on 2 episodes, and some featurettes. There’s about 40-45 minutes worth of featurettes which is a decent amount for a show like this. You get cast interviews talking about the events that happened in the show, their characters and things like that. The real Ali Soufan was interviewed and focused on for some of the featurettes as well, which was nice because it seems like he was portrayed truthfully for the show. There’s a featurette about Soufan talking about his mentor John and how it was like working with him.
The Looming Tower is nerve-wracking, beyond frustrating show but damn it’s a good one. I thought it should have gotten more recognition at the Emmys. It’s tough to see some of this but I think it’s still something that should be seen.
The Looming Tower: Divided We Fall
The Complexities of Character
Ali Soufan: In His Own Words
Across Three Continents: Creating The Looming Tower
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.78:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit)
French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps)
German: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps)
Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps)
English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Japanese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian, Swedish
Bottom Line: Excellent miniseries that’s intense yet frustrating on something could have been done to prevent the events of 9/11.
Running Time: 550 mins