Nicolas Cage is well-known for his batshit crazy performances such as Bad Lieutenant, Face/Off, Wild At Heart or The Wicker Man. When you need someone to commit to a part and see it all the way through, Nicolas Cage is your man; even if the film is terrible, you can't say he didn't try. So it's an appropriate fit for him to play Gary Faulkner, the man who tried to locate and arrest Osama Bin Laden an amazing eleven times. Check out the trailer below:
It may have been a long time since Nicolas Cage was still at his peak when he was crushing it in Bad Lieutenant, but perhaps this film will be the catalyst he needs to put his career back on track and reinstate himself as one of the greatest actors of all time. But the key question remains: is Army of One based on a true story?
Lived An Eventful Life
Unbelievably, Gary Faulkner is a real person who did try and find Osama Bin Laden despite only speaking a few words of Urdu, and in need of dialysis at least three times a week. Yet the craziness didn't begin there. The man dubbed in the media as "Rocky Mountain Rambo" has lived a truly remarkable life. Having spent twelve years in jail between 1981 and 1995 for committing burglary and larceny, he believed that the years spent as a criminal have shaped him into who he is today. When asked on Denver's 9News if he was a crackpot, he had quite an unexpected response:
"I'm a little of everything. I've done crack, I've done crank, I've done coke, I've done pot, I've done everything in the world out there. You know, I've been to prison, I've been shipwrecked, blown up, shot, stabbed. My story does not just start here; it started when I was 5 years old, the first time I tried to hot-wire a car."
This all changed however, when he was suddenly given:
A Mission From God
Jim Sage, a friend of Faulkner who worked with him in construction, says of Faulkner's inspiration that:
"He just had a dream about hunting down bin Laden. In his dream he was supposed to get there without his feet touching the ground."
When describing his motivation to take down Binny Boy (as he called him) he says it isn't so much him as God working through him:
"God's making a statement. It isn't me. I'm just doing what I am programmed to do through my faith. Nothing is actually a thought process; it's emotion out of my heart. Because when I start thinking about stuff, I'll get confused. I don't have a clue. And I'll be the first to say it"
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Various Attempts To Find Bin Laden
He tried to go to Pakistan a total of 11 times, with mixed results:
- Attempt Number 1: Gary bought a boat called the Pia Colada and set sail across the Pacific, handily ignoring the Coast Guard telling him that it was illegal to travel without a lifejacket or flares. According to him, he was on the boat for twenty-two days, until it was caught up in a hurricane and he landed in Mexico.
- Attempt Number 2: He bought another boat, but when readying it he had an altercation with the mast, dislocating his shoulder.
- Attempt Number 3: Thinking that maybe a plane would be easier, he subsequently flew to Islamabad, before travelling to Lahore and Sialkot, finally ending up in the northern tribal area of Gilgit. There he explored the mountains, where conventional wisdom suggested Bin Laden was hiding. Armed with a sword he bought on a home-shopping network, and with no knowledge of the local language, he tried to wing his way through. He claims that on this trip he was chased through the mountains by Al Qaeda, and outside the hotel he was staying at, the military guard posted was shot and killed. Regarding this event, he says:
"I thought it was pretty cool, myself, because I shook the tree and at least I got a response."
- Attempts Number 4, 5, 9 and 10: He took planes to Pakistan and explored various caves in an attempt to stake out his enemy, a man he believed worshipped Satan. No luck.
- Attempts Number 6 and 7: Revisiting this concept of his feet not touching the ground, he thought the best way to reach Bin Laden would be by hang glider. Yes, hang glider. The best place to try it? Israel:
"Well, if I go to Israel—the Dead Sea! Hit the water, you float"
Sadly for Gary, the first attempt left him with multiple fractures in his ribs, and the second ripped up his shins. Describing these attempts, he says:
"I normally give stuff two tries. And if it doesn't work by the second time, I'm through."
- Attempt Number 8: Flies to Pakistan without a visa. Gets denied entry.
- Attempt Number 11: Faulkner had had weak kidneys for a long time, and given that Pakistan was without medical facilities to deal with dialysis, this final trip sadly ended with him, as he claims, flagging policeman down and asking to be arrested. Others claim the authorities had had enough of him. He was prepping another trip but Bin Laden was soon killed by Navy Seals.
Was He Close
Gary Faulkner may seem like a man who has abandoned all rationality, but in fact, according to The New York Times, he was, at the time, doing just as well as American intelligence. As they say:
"He was looking in the right place. Or at least the place where many intelligence analysts think he is: the mountainous high-altitude district of Chitral."
Yet both Faulkner and these analysts were wrong, and Bin Laden was found hundreds of miles south in a compound in Abbottabad, finally located after one of his couriers was tracked. Nevertheless, there is something honorable about the man's attempts, his feckless bravery, and his belief in doing the right thing by trying to rid the world of a truly horrible man. He may have failed, but his endeavours serve as an inspiration to us all. Let's hope Nic Cage can do him proud.
Will Nic Cage Do A Great Job?