“The whole country is watching you, they just don’t know it.” -Jack O’Donnell, Argo
Unfortunately, that is often the case when it comes to those protecting our country. In 2012, however, there has been an increase in historic thriller movies, specifically ones dealing with the armed forces or our intelligence agencies.
For one, they are what people love to see: action, adventure, and suspense. But what makes these films go above and beyond your typical action movies is that they are true, or mostly true at least.
In the past year, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty and Act of Valor premiered in theaters. All of these movies received outstanding reviews and are up for numerous prestigious awards. But why?
In February of last year, Act of Valor kicked off this series of movies. It was a captivating story of Navy SEALs recovering a kidnapped CIA agent. The actors, however, were not actors at all; instead they were eight active Navy SEALs, who originally all rejected the idea. This movie was not based on a real mission, but it did have active members, real gunfire and access to training missions.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Mike McCoy, director, said, “Once we were inside, we were blown away… We connected with the men and saw this brotherhood and this depth of character amongst men, and the sacrifices they’ve been through in the last 10 years in sustained combat.”
With real SEALs, Act of Valor thoroughly achieved its purpose of showing the true, and sometimes harsh, side of the armed forces, something many Americans often forget about. The film pounded into the audience’s brain the seemingly impossible decisions and life-or-death situations that Navy SEALs face every single day.
Following Act of Valor, Argo surfaced, which spotlighted the six escaped American ambassadors in the Iranian Hostage Crisis. As the credits rolled, pictures were displayed of the real people and places shown in the movie, shocking the audience with how real the story was.
The inside of the hostage crisis was never acknowledged by the public until its declassification in 1997. Some people have criticized the movie only portrayed the tale of the those six workers and not the real hostages. However, a good point was brought up in an article in the New York Times, stating that everyone knows their story,and it is not pretty. Argo touches on the traumatizing 14 months the 52 hostages had to endure. On the other hand, it focused on the lesser known story of those who did escape, a story more fit for Hollywood.
Following Argo, in December, Zero Dark Thirty came out, detailing the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Although the film is supposedly based on the real story, no one can be sure how much of it is true since the whole story hasn’t even been released yet.
Zero Dark Thirty is causing quite a stir in Washington, influencing the Senate to make requests for C.I.A. documents to be released to discover the true nature of how the search was conducted. The agency is being questioned for the “enhanced interrogation techniques” displayed in the movie.
Often movies based off of real military actions are thoroughly examined for falsities and face a lot of controversy for the events pictured. But isn’t it better for people to gain an idea of reality, instead of watching yet another romantic comedy or zombie flick? Isn’t it better to recognize what people are fighting for out there instead of forgetting about it? These images are considered controversial, but some of them are the truth and that is the scariest part of all.
It is easy to lose touch with what is happening in other parts of the world. Americans focus on their mostly stable lives here in the United States, but these movies remind people that there are people out there risking their lives for us. What makes all these movies incredible is the fact that they do not just exploit our armed forces to make a cool movie, they show what has actually happened.
Now, these movies cannot be taken for absolute fact. They are, of course, dramatized by Hollywood, but these historic thrillers still inspire and instill a sense of nationalism in everyone.
All these movies exemplify the sacrifice and the bravery some Americans demonstrate. People defending our country do not get nearly the credit they deserve, but as Jack O’Donnell said in Argo, “If we wanted applause, we would have joined the circus.”