Today: February 22, 2024

Codename: Geronimo

A strange film to watch and an even stranger film to review, Codename: Geronimo is better than it has a right to be. It’s still not great but it’s not the Blackhawk crash you’re expecting.

A strange film
to watch and an even stranger film to review, Codename: Geronimo is better than
it has a right to be. It’s still
not great but it’s not the Blackhawk crash you’re expecting.

Beating Kathryn
Bigelow
’s similarly themed Zero Dark
Thirty
to the punch and sensitively retitled Seal Team Six: The Raid On Osama Bin Laden in the US so it
wouldn’t offend Native Americans who still revere renegade Apache leader Geronimo
as a national hero (and, if a century of Westerns has taught us nothing else,
one group you want to piss off less than Al
Qaeda
, is the Apaches), Codename: Geronimo comes to UK screens
fresh from its TV screening in the US where executive producer Harvey Weinstein, a Democrat and Obama
supporter, controversially ensured the film went out on the National Geographic
channel just TWO DAYS before the Presidential Election leading to accusations
of partisanship by the disgruntled Republican camp.

Starring the kind of actors that will no doubt elicit vague
recognition from audiences who watch a lot of Channel 5 (“Hey! Isn’t that what’shisname from CSI/NCIS/Prison Break?”) and, you know,
that guy who shagged Stifler’s Mom (Eddie
Kaye Thomas
), Codename: Geronimo
chronicles the lead up to and raid by US Navy SEALs on the fortified compound
in Pakistan where the World’s Most
Wanted Man™
and the West’s boogeyman du jour, Osama Bin Laden, was hiding in plain sight under the not exactly
inquisitive noses of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services.

A largely tension-free exercise, let’s face it, we know the
Americans shot him in the face and dumped his body at sea, Codename: Geronimo focuses on the CIA analysts who figured out
where Bin Laden was hiding and the SEAL team who carried out the mission. So we have a spunky, highly strung CIA
agent (Kathleen Robertson), who’s
effectively Carrie from Homeland
without the personality disorders and love of jazz (or the compulsion to f*ck
her suspects), trying to convince her colleagues (the always wonderful William Fichtner and the bloke who
shagged Stifler’s mom) that the lanky Arab living anonymously in a Pakistani
neighbourhood is the same lanky Arab terrorist they’ve been hunting for a
decade.

Then there are the SEALs who to this day remain
anonymous. They’re a pretty
anonymous bunch in the film too, conforming wonderfully to our stereotypical
notions of men on a mission.
There’s the prettyboy leader (Twilight’s
Cam Gigandet
), there’s the Hispanic one (Six Feet Under’s Freddy Rodriguez), there’s the Black one (Xzbit in the obligatory faded rapper
playing a soldier role) and there’s the cool, laconic, sexy one (Anson Mount). They train a bit; lots of night-vision assisted clearing of
dark rooms. They play computer
games. Mount boffs Gigandet’s
drunken slattern wife. They fall
out but everyone sets aside their differences and pulls together for the big raid. The bad guy gets killed and the world
is made safe for Truth, Justice and the American Way.

The script by the wonderfully monickered Kendall Lampkin
manages to suck much of the drama from this drama-documentary but thankfully
it’s not too flag-wavingly patriotic and the actors are all fine, if
unmemorable, with only the charismatic Mount leaving any kind of impression. With his long hair and grizzled
features Mount, who obviously wasn’t able to shave or cut his hair due to
filming commitments on TV Western Hell
On Wheels
, is the only one who actually looks like a SEAL, who are all
rather hirsute, as opposed to his clean-cut colleagues. The workman-like direction by John
Stockwell (best known for thrillers where actresses like Jessica Alba, Melissa George and Kate Bosworth model bikinis) is effective with most of the action
scenes lent a videogame immediacy by being shot first-person from the
perspective of the SEALs’ helmet cameras (even the team’s attack dog has his
own night-vision camera attached to his collar). It all feels a little like watching an online walk-through
of the latest Medal Of Honour.

Effective but by-the-numbers, Codename: Geronimo’s natural home is on TV but at least it’s better
than this year’s ludicrous SEAL recruitment movie Act Of Valor.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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