Oliver Stone did his 9/11 movie and lo, it stunk. I rewatched World Trade Center recently, and then again with Stone’s commentary, and the banality of the whole thing was evident. Stone took a story suited for a TV movie and never figured out how to do anything more with it. In fact, while watching the movie I realized that David Karnes, the driven ex-Marine who left his job to head to the World Trade Center and who found the trapped Port Authority officers played by Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena and then rejoined the Marines and shipped out to do two tours of duty in Iraq – that’s an Oliver Stone character, a driven man who gets caught up in the events of his times. Not two guys trapped in rubble.
Anyway, Stone’s next movie is going to be about what happened after 9/11, and specifically about the CIA efforts to get Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. It’ll be an adaptation of the book Jawbreaker, the memoir of CIA agent Gary Berntsen detailing his time with the Agency in Afghanistan, trying to smoke out Al Qaeda, and telling the inside story of how bin Laden escaped our forces at Tora Bora. It sounds a lot more interesting than it is, partly because Berntsen is an almost laughably bad writer (some of the dialogue he claims to have said sounds like it would have been rejected from a Michael Bay movie) but also because Berntsen wasn’t on the ground at most of the interesting events. He was in country, but was commanding teams who were in the field. Plus, half the damn book seems to be redacted by CIA censors. I tend to love books like this, but Jawbreaker left me cold.
I do see how it could be a strong film, though, especially with a little bit of looseness when it comes to details – make things that happened to multiple people (whose identities are classified anyway) happen to a smaller number of central characters, for instance. What I don’t get is what role Emilio Estevez could have in any of this, although The Hollywood News is reporting that he is in talks to appear in the film. I don’t know that I could buy Estevez as a CIA agent – and I definitely don’t see him as Berntsen – but I could see him as one of the paper pushers back in Washington who stymied many of the CIA field teams’ efforts to capture or kill some bad guys. By the way, see how I buried my lead not just three paragraphs in, but deep inside the third paragraph?
There’s nothing hard on Jawbreaker right now, and it could wind up not even being Stone’s next film. But if it is, look for some official word about Estevez – assuming it’s true – in the coming weeks.