ByTimothy Rodgers, writer at

This is one of the retro-reviews dedicated to the focus of pre-911 terrorism themed movies. This one was made in 1998. I feel it is important to look back at movies like this because we can reflect on what we anticipate from conflict and how we dealt with it in reality. Looking back at these films is also important because some of the ways it is portrayed is different in many aspects.

Denzel Washington is an FBI agent in this movie. He is torn between the way the system is handling the process of dealing with the city under random bombing attacks and his ideas of morality.

Bruce Willis plays a Major General who is tasked with trying to take control of the situation. The chaos gets to the point where martial law is declared and the military steps in. There are many parallel lessons that can be learned from how this movie handled the terrorism they faced, against how we have handled what we face in reality.

The writer in this movie is spot on about the fact that when safety becomes an issue, people become more willing to compromise on morals and rights. This is especially true when it comes to someone else having their rights violated. Torture as a method of extraction for information plays a major part in this film. This twist in the story creates a two part front for the protagonist. He must not only find a way to stop the attacks, he must remind those who work in other parts of the government that this is still the United States of America. That people have rights.

One scene in this movie features a bus. The FBI agent is on the phone with the one holding the bus hostage. Take a moment to remember how the second plane was captured on film for the news when it went into the other tower on 9/11. This part highlights the importance of making sure the display of violence is visible in an uncensored way. Sometimes the wide spread outreach of the display, is more meaningful than the act itself. It is all about setting examples...

The terrorist in this scene opens the doors at the Protagonist's request and releases the children on board. All the hostages are pressed up against the windows. The children get to safety and there is a slight focus on news cameras setting up. The FBI agent then asks for the release of the elderly. The response was detonation of the explosives.

There is another topic they cover in this movie which is internment camps. Working for the FBI could not keep the protagonist's partner's son out of one of those places and is an interesting part of the story line. These camps are part of the military response when they are called into action.

I highly recommend this movie for anyone who has not seen it. It is a must watch if you are into politics or thinking about current events. There are many areas of terrorism this movie covers and it does an amazing job rounding the bases. Some of what is discussed can be seen as relevant in many situations today.


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