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The Siege is an action thriller made in 1998 and follows Denzel Washington and his FBI crew tackling terrorist cells in New York City.
I was so surprised how the film has aged so well. The filmmakers obviously had incredible foresight, or were just able to come up with a very good story. Nobody would have ever thought that the USA could be that draconian, but we are ever so close to what was envisioned now.
Some of the film was a little disappointing though. The first part of the film was excellent up until the bus bomb, but seems to go a little downhill after that. The bus bomb was incredibly well filmed, but the later terrorist acts including the destruction of the Broadway theatre and the FBI buildings were poorly executed and looked a lot less impressive.
Looking back at the September the 11th attacks the world did not go to pot as this film envisions. Basically after three relatively small Islamic attacks, the city goes under lockdown and into marshal law. All Muslim men are sealed into a baseball stadium and routinely tortured. The torture scenes too are very well filmed - very reminiscent of Abu Graib, even though it was made several years before Iraq.
The Siege is certainly strange to look at now post 9/11, the film does predict a number of things but its realisation isn't quite there. The first part of the film is a decent fast paced thriller, but when it starts to become overtly political it loses some of its impact.
The Siege is well worth another watch, I hadn't seen it since it first came out and enjoyed it again this time around. The ever dependable Denzel Washington is very good here as the workaholic agent hunting the terrorists. Bruce Willis is less effective as the bad guy - but this is probably down to his short screen time. Annette Benning was irritating as hell - but I liked Tony Shalhoub's portrayal as the FBI translator.
In all The Siege is a good thriller with a novelty factor post 9/11. Worth checking out.
The Siege is a 'prophetic' movie in my opinion, because although it was released in 1998, before the 9/11 and the numerous bombings in London, Madrid, India and elsewhere, it kind of foresees these events.
* Genre: Action / Thriller
* The Plot:
US Army General William Devereaux (Bruce Willis) is involved in the abduction of a Sheikh, an Islamic religious leader. As a result, New York City becomes a terrorist target starting with the blowing up of a bus in busy Brooklyn. FBI Special Agent Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington) and his Arab fellow-agent Frank Haddad (Tony Shalhoub) try to locate and stop the terrorist cells while violence, bombings and mayhem are escalating. CIA agent Elise Kraft (Annette Bening) seems to have a lot of helpful information, but what is her agenda?
* My reality:
USA focused disaster movies are not usually my cup of tea and I watched this movie after my partner chose it. I must admit though that it is a fast paced adventure with an intriguing story line. The cinematography is fresh and remains up to it almost 12 years down the line, although the effects and action scenes are pretty typical US style, i.e. with lots of explosions, but in this particular film, bomb explosions are a main plot theme, so they don't seem out of place or too exaggerated.
While I was watching the movie I had to check what year it was made, because I couldn't believe the fact that it actually predicts the attack of Muslim extremists on US soil and New York in particular. In addition, the reaction of General Devereaux foretells the events at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. This played a significant role for me, because if the movie were made after 9/11 I would probably see it as an attempt to exploit the popular fear, but being made before those events make it worth watching and realising how many key aspects of the 'war on terror' the director and script writer have managed to capture in a true prophetic way, when most of the world did not see it coming.
The selection of the cast is excellent, with Washington, Willis and Shalhoub being very comfortable and believable in their roles. Annette Bening's presence is a bit odd, but so is her character in the movie, so it keeps the viewer guessing on who she really is and what she knows. This question keeps things much more interesting and adds a mystery layer - albeit thin - to the plot, with some twists and turns.
Something I really enjoyed in this film is that it does not have any predictable and unnecessary romance and sex scenes; it does contain some nudity, but it feels very natural for the role and the given scene.
The main disadvantage is that knowing how things have evolved in real life, I found that the movie sometimes gets a lecturing and melodramatic tone.
Directed by Edward Zwick
Story and screenplay by Lawrence Wright
Feature run time: 111'
Audio: English 5.1 with numerous subtitles
Special features: Theatrical Trailer, The Making of
* Price: £4.88 at Amazon.co.uk
The Siege was written by Lawrence Wright, Edward Zwick and Menno Meyjes. Lynda Obst and Edward Zwick produced the film, Edward Zwick also directed it. The film was released in 1998 and was distributed by 21st Century Fox.
The film begins by showing footage from the Khobar Towers bombing which took place on June 25th 1996. The Khobar Towers was a building in Saudi Arabia which was being used by the US military. In the film, the blame for this attack was placed firmly on a terrorist cell led by Sheik Ahmed Bin Talal, who is then covertly taken into custody by the US.
The film then cuts to New York where we learn that there is a hostage situation involving a packed bus full of civilians. FBI agents Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington) and Frank Haddad (Tony Shalhoub) arrive at the scene and witness the bomb detonating. Fearing the worst, the agents are surprised when it transpires that this was a warning. Everyone aboard the bus is covered in blue paid. The FBI receive a fax stating 'Release Him'. Everyone at the FBI gets to work trying to discover who is behind the 'bombing' and what their motives are.
A short time later, there is another bomb aboard a bus. The same FBI agents attempt to negotiate with the terrorists, they manage to get the children released, their next move is to get the elderly off the bus too. As the door opens and the first of the elderly passengers is getting off, the bomb goes off, killing everyone on board and showering the vicinity in debris.
It is during the investigation of the bombing that we meet Elise Kraft (Annette Bening), an experienced CIA agent who has spent years working in Saudi Arabia and who is undertaking her own investigation. There is huge friction between Hubbard and Kraft which becomes a huge part of the plot. The film develops as more and more terrorist attacks take place and finally, the army is called in, led by Major General William Devereaux. Once this character is fully introduced, the pace really picks up and things finally start to get going. This film is a little long and, retrospectively, there are a few scenes that could have been cut without altering the story or affecting the impact of the film at all.
Although quite explosive, (excuse the pun) the first half of the film is pretty slow. Once the scene is set, however, things start to fall into place pretty quickly. We meet a few more unsavoury characters along the way who have a huge impact on the events unfolding before our eyes; I won't go into too much detail, as it will spoil the film. The film build in suspense as they attempt to foil a terrorist attack and find the last terrorist cell operating in New York. The end of the film provides us with what is supposed to be a huge 'twist' but, to be honest, I saw it coming and was hugely disappointed when my theory came true. For a film like this to be truly effective and memorable, I want to be surprised. The Siege just didn't do it for me in this way.
The actors in this film failed to really impress me, there are some scenes which are very disappointing, it seems as if the actors really don't care about their roles or the storyline. They do manage to show some emotions well, particularly when a few (well, more than a few) of their colleagues are killed in an attack. The despair on Denzel Washington's face in this scene is clear. There is also a scene in which Tony Shalhoub plays his character to perfection, expressing his frustration and anger convincingly, I'm not going to give anything away but when you see this scene, you'll know what I'm talking about.
The action scenes in this film are probably the best things about it. The explosions are filmed well and to be honest, are fairly impressive, especially considering this was filmed ten years ago! The advancement of special effects and filming techniques in that time have been huge so for a film of this age to be able to pull of these types of scenes as well as it does is very nice.
Yankee Stadium (home of the New York Yankees baseball team) makes an appearance as a makeshift prison / detention centre. Using this location was a stroke of genius as far as I'm concerned. It shows how desperate the army have become to put an end to the attacks but also the bleakness of the situation they are in, the internal shots are full of dark greys and black. A nice metaphor if there has ever been one.
Despite some of these redeeming factors, I would recommend that this film be avoided if possible. It does have some potential but even the ever-excellent Denzel Washington fails to rescue this, which is a shame.
The terror attack of 9/11 were an immense tragedy, with the knock on effects and the losses of lives unacceptable. Worryingly close to the mark was this 1998 film, The Siege, examining terrorist cells in and around the city of New York, and features a race against time and ever-increasing paranoia as the main characters find a lack of trust and gut instinct starts taking over their lives.
The film centres around the abduction of a terrorist, and how its secrecy threatens the lives of hundreds and thousands of lives as a terrorist cell becomes increasingly dangerous and likely to attack at any second. The pressure mounts on the main characters, Anthony 'Hub' Hubbard (Denzel Washington) and Elise Kraft (Annette Bening) as the city surges towards being put on martial law under the strict and unnerving control of the cold and calculating Major General Devereaux (Bruce Willis).
The tension heightens all the way throughout the film, as we as the viewer are left to try and work out who the sleeper cell is just as much as the main characters. The film is worryingly close to what actually happened in 9/11, and this film saw increased rental and sales following the attacks, as did many films of similar type. The believability factor comes into question somewhat in this film at times, which spoils it a touch.
A film with extreme terrorism involved is never easy to watch with an open mind in this day and age, especially considering the heightened terrorism every single day. When I first saw this, the world was still in shock because of the 9/11 attacks, and it was hard to put this from my mind as I watched it. The film itself is very well acted, particularly from Denzel, as is usual with the actor. Annette Bening sufficiently acts the part of a rabbit in headlights, and Willis is once again a hard nosed character.
There are some very deep performances from the support cast, particularly Sami Bouajila as Samir, and Tony Shalhoub as Frank Haddad, but the special effects crew and director need to take the credit for the tension of the film throughout. I did like this film, but found it very hard to watch. Perhaps if the events of 9/11 had never happened and the war on terror hadn't played so much of a part in everyone'es lives, I may have been able to appreciate it a bit more, but following these events, I found it hard to apply realism to the film, and as a result it lost some of its potential effects on the audience.
Overall, I rate this film at 4 stars. It is very good, but stopped short of excellent due to the situation at the time and the fact that parts of the film had artistic licence and seemed a touch unbelievable. The DVD is available from amazon.co.uk for £3.98. The copy I have doesn't have any extras.
Whenever I think about this film I actually shiver... everything that happend in 9/11 holds a very strong ressemblence to the events that take place in this film... If only we knew!
This is a political action thriller.
The american military kidnaps an arab sheikh but keeps it a secret from all and everyone, the president and the FBI included. The arabs get pissed off by it and they begin a series of attacks in the middle of New York City. The FBI, not knowing what triggered the attacks is in a hault and the politicians decide to declare martial law. The city falls into complete chaos, all arabs are taken into "concentration camps" and the same army that holds the sheikh are now opperating against their own country. Meanwhile, the chief of FBI, Denzel Washington, gradually finds out more and more about the sheikh after collaborating with a CIA agent who just knows too much and holds a few secrets...
The director has done a brilliant job pacing the film and raising each and every issue in a sublte way. The script itself suggests that the whole mess was caused by the americans but it is important to say that the film does not actually take sides. Obviously the americans triggered the attacks but then again the brutality with which they are carried out is no good either. I guess the conclusion the film makes is shouted by Denzel Washington in the end: "...if we change, general, they will win... hell... they've already won!"
There is some very good performances in there from all actors. Bruce Willis is actually good at playing the one responsible for kidnapping the sheikh and Denzel Washington again gives all of himself for this part.
The music is also good, with action tracks and some very cool "arabic" eary tunes.
It's just so spooky that a movie actually depicted an attack right in the heart of New York, carried out by Arabs, and just a couple of years before 9/11 happend...
Come on, Bruce. Give us a smile. No? Oh. Ok. Facial expressions never were your strong point as an actor. Now that that little bit of criticism is out of the way I can start to lavish praise on what really is SOME action movie. I always think the best action films are those like Armageddon and Independence Day that aren't too challenging and just provoke enough thought and emotion in us to send us away happy, satisfied and feeling though we have learned a little something. For brazen bing-bang-boom Hollywood productions these movies fulfill that role amply. With Independence Day it was about pulling together as a species rather than being divided by race. In Armageddon we are left with that sensation of having just witnessed a truly remarkable act, as though our hopes of what mankind can really achieve have just been answered. With The Siege, the question is really more one of virtue. The issue is whether we can retain our virtues, those things which distinguish us from the bestial and the primitive and the tyrannical. The prophetic nature of this picture does its creators a great credit and it is a genuine tragedy that their warning could not have been heeded earlier by the west. The script is very much passable with some moments of great sensitivity and intelligence. The acting is high quality from the three main actors (although I do wish Bruce Willis' face was a bit more malleable). Denzel Washington provides a moral loadstone of considerable weight. His stern senior FBI agent is well played but as the central protagonist I just feel that he doesn't quite suffer well enough. You might argue alternatively that his only task was to convey the professionalism of our typical one-man American action hero. I feel, though, that the well cast, black, Assistant FBI Director would be a little more sensitive to the injustice of the scenario than he actually was. Benning is all spyish and espionagy which suits her well and she performe
d commendably as the CIA agent. Willis was good and serious and portrayed the hard, desensitised military man adequately. It is the story though, that I feel pulls this movie across the line. After a spate of terrorist attacks in Brooklyn, NYC, all male Musilims between about 16and 45 in the area are imprisoned in concentration camps. (The use of baseball stadia for this purpose is useful as it suggests how easily the very symbols of America, of freedom and of fun can be turned on their head). It really reminds us of the depths to which we are still capable descending. We are shown how easily our sensibilities and beliefs can be corrupted and how readily the things that we stand for can be abandoned. One of the most poignant parts of the film is the torture of a suspect Muslim in a changing room in Yankee/Mets Stadium. The act itself is not shown. We only hear the terrible sounds of savage torture and murder while the sight is left to our imagination. The screams are chilling and frightening and suddenly we realise that we are watching a very serious film indeed. The moral crux of the film really comes out of the electrifying end-of-film confrontation/showdown between Washington and Willis. Washington carries off the exhillerating and powerful speech brilliantly. He reminds us what we stand for. He reminds us who we want to be. And he reminds us of the right way to get there. We remember why we are in this war and which side it is that we are supposed to be on.
Since nine eleven and the terrible attacks in America theres has been a surprising increase in rentals of these types of movies, current and back catalogue. It seems as if the under thirties over the pond are less than panicked by the everyday incidents and find solace in Arnie and Willis. Well not one to miss a trend I thought i would try this one as it’s very close to the subject matter. The deliciously naughty comedian once said that in the event of the outbreak of bio, chemical nuclear war, all pile around to Jimmy Tarbucks house. He hasn’t had a hit for years. Which could fairly be sad about The Sieges co-star Bruce Willis. And his peripheral role in this as a all knowing army brass given the orders to put New York under Marshall Law does little for his movie portfolio. If it wasn’t for The Sixth Sense in the sane year as this one he would have been long gone. Its uncomfortably set in New York which is slowly ravaged by a series of terrorist attacks against a menagerie of targets for maximum impact. Like the real scenario, the terrorists are from the Middle East and the leader is a one “Ahmed bin Talal (seem familiar) who looks exactly like the real towel head murderer. Although he’s bombed out from the West Bank and the Lebanon were the real culprits and the coalition forces (Americans) should be now. Not a poverty ravaged country like Afghanistan as in real-time. Some of the location sets after the explosions in the movie look hauntingly familiar with the halogen lamps lighting the night sky. But even the most fantasists movie people couldn’t predict the terrible special effects and events that happened for real.. The film concentrates on the friction come sexual tension between the local FBI chief played by Denziel Washington and a CIA op gal in Annette Benning.Both are chasing the same bad guys but refuse to trade intel as the city is being blown apart. B
enning is sporting a Carol Vorderman “Ism available at forty”birds nest haircut as she seeks her reflection in Washington’s dazzling teeth. As the two fail to contain the terror in the Big Apple the President calls in the military in the form of Bruce Willis.I would have gone for Kurt Russell at this point with Bruce only able to handle the one skyscraper at a time. The message is simple. Release the sheik or the mayhem goes on. The terrorist love of blowing people up on live TV also shows an uncanny resemblance to today’s events. From the moment the film opens to a panoramic scan of the World Trade Center skyline you feel this film s going to be far more poignant than an everyday shoot em up it was meant to be. It soon becomes clear that the FBI’s motto of catching the bad guys to protect the country isn’t doing much good. The CIA’s more worrying theme is not to catch the bad guys to keep the country safe seems to be the more telling. Benning seems to be in bed with the terrorist in more ways than one. But after September 11 I don’t think any reality or film will ever be the same again on that issue. Theres a lot of interagency agency rivalry as they all close in on those bad guys. The movie is a clear pop at our Middle East brothers and the menace within with lots of references to the Gulf War and Embassy bombers. More poignant are the reverences the agencies make to Afghanistan and financing one side who are later the enemy. Also that the Americans were financing the now bad guys to keep the fret from American shores. Perhaps this run of the mill film is a portent to what will happen if we capture and try Bin Laden. It’s a run of the mill terror shoot em up which really needed a better twist and ending. Washington is his typical posturing righteous blackman to Bennings cool and collected CIA agent. Willis is there for the paycheck. I suppose
the only reason to watch it is the way we see a movie portray September 11th and then we see the real thing. So many of Washington’s lines are exactly what the TV pundits are saying now about the current situation. In the extra add on here theres a spooky statement from actress Benning who says, “What would we do if it wasn’t just the World Trade Center and it just didn’t stop”. Ok movie but it is all too real now as two worlds have well and truly collided.
We arrive in New York and slowly begin to see the tale unfold of a terrorist organisation causing a stir up on the streets of New York. The terrorists being Israelis background appear to have found a knack for blowing things up. The story line is not one of the best and doesn’t follow any specific path. It is like a hose when you have let go and will go anywhere. The actors do make a good job though of what little they have got to work on and the stars include Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington. Denzel exceeds himself as he potrays the FBI agent attempting to stop these terrorists. Bruce is the militant leader planning the whole scale operation as Martial law takes effect on the city. Just to throw a spanner in the works the terrorists act under individual sections or cells. This means that even if one is caught then the others carry on. A nice twist, I think not. Maybe if it had been thought out more thoroughly the final result would have been better and the entertainment of a higher quality. Action comes hard and often in this explosion heist and it is bearable though not more than once!
This film is excellently acted but unfortunately the plot is a bit disjointed and challenging to follow. The story line deals with a group of Middle East terrorists that embark on a reign of terror in New York City. The film script has been written in order to convey that the world of terrorism is a world in which there is little trust and most of the relationships between the people involved are very complex. In the desire to show this complexity the film occasionally seems to go down sub plots that finish up in a story “dead end”, which is broken by somebody appearing with a piece of paper announcing a break through in the hunt for the terrorists. After this has happened three or four times you begin to realise what a poor cop-out it is for the script writers. The whole film scenario escalates too quickly to be believable, although the shots of thousands of troops coming onto the streets of New York would have provided a lot of work for film extras. Denzel Washington is brilliant as the FBI agent Anthony Hubbard and it is only his performance that makes this film worth watching at all. Bruce Willis plays the role of an army General but this part does not fit his character at all and one I felt he should have turned down. There are some good action shots in the movie and some excellent special effects, but these are not enough to save the story line. We are expected to follow the thinking and the behaviour of the terrorists, but about the only line we hear from them is that “The most committed wins”. Even this line is almost lost amongst the twisting plot. I believe the makers of the film were trying to produce a complicated film looking into the world of terrorism, but got confused with wanting to show the take-over of New York. The most commendable point is the ending. All of the loose ends are nicely drawn together and finished conclusively. Obviously the makers realised there was no point in
leaving any outstanding matters and there would never be a sequel. The cast and the promotion material make this film look good, but I certainly wouldn’t watch it again.
When you see a film advertised that stars Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis, you;d expect it to be fairly gripping, and although it's not the worst film I;ve ever seen it certainly wasn;t the best either. The storyline is basically about a group of terrorists going around blwoing up bus loads of people and theatres etc, and Denzel Washington has to find out who they are and stop them. Enter Bruce Willis as the somewhat deranged military man whose answer to the problem is to round up suspects by the thousands and hold them in a concentration like camp until the culprit either gives himself up or is found. It's a watchable film with a fairly scary plot to it - let's face it, it could and probably already has happened in America and possibly anywhere else in the world that you care to think of, but there;s something missing. I can;t quite put my finger on it, but it's lacking something that would make it an absolute must-see film. We watched it on Sky Box Office, and have watched since on the regular Sky Cinema channels. It's the sort of film that you can watch when there;s nothing else on that takes your fancy.
A terrorist act is the starting point for a swift descent into chaos - which is kind of obvious to most of us who have, from time to time, suffered from such outrages in the countries we call home. But when it happens in New York you can cut the righteous indignation with a knife, as various Government agencies vie for dominance in order to justify their vast federal budgets. The gung ho nature of it all is unintentionally amusing, as the 'how dare they do this to us' attitude stirs up competing factions to hunt down the Islamic fundamentalist cells operating within American shores. At the same time a process of internment begins. Baffled FBI agent Hubbard (Washington) tries to solve the mystery, and is intrigued by the presence of Elise Kraft (Bening) whose own motives are far from clear. His mind is not eased by dubious words of encouragement from General Devereaux (Willis). As the terrorist acts begin to cause widespread panic, martial law is imposed by the President and implemented by Devereaux, making New York even more of a ticking time bomb than it normally is. Not anti-Arab, as the controversy surrounding it has suggested, Ed Zwick's well staged but politically naive film proves far more balanced than expected in this regard. But it is missing the dramatic urgency that its story should be creating. Perhaps this is down to the whole thuddingly ironic scenario, to the generally unsympathetic characters, or the leaden pace. So while Denzel Washington is never less than credible, his character does spout some pretty unconvincing dialogue. Yet it is he and co-star Tony Shalhoub - his Arab-American FBI colleague - who stand out in an otherwise routine film. Too subtle for its 'deadly chickens coming home to roost' message to permeate the American consciousness, the parochial nature of the plot will surely be less appealing for international audiences. And all that's left is not even
Arab bombers have got New York by the balls and are squeezing for all they're worth, as an FBI agent (denzel Washington) ineffectually chases shadows all over the Big Apple. For the first fifteen minutes or so, The Siege promises to take off as a terrifically taut suspense thriller, especially after the terrorists blow up a bus in spectacular fashion. But with that one almight bang the film snuffs itself out, descending into a piece of vile, chest beating propaganda masquerading as entertainment. This farrago reportedly cost more than $70 million to make, dont add further insult by paying to see it.
A high-profile action/exploitation thriller set in the late 20th century, The Siege is really a fantasy that extrapolates from major terrorist bombings, such as the one at the World Trade Centre. Denzel Washington is FBI special agent Hubbard, "Hub" to his friends, whose anti-terrorist task force must track down the terrorist cells responsible for a spate of bombings in New York. His partner is an FBI agent of Arabian extraction (played convincingly by Tony Shalhoub), proving not all Arabs are bad guys--a point the film should be lauded for making again and again. Thrown into the mix is a CIA spy (played almost kittenish at times by Annette Bening), whose ties to the terrorists appear to be at the centre of the conflicts. When the bombings escalate out of control, the President institutes martial law, sending in General Devereaux (played with impenetrable countenance by Bruce Willis) with tanks and troops to ferret out the terrorists. Echoes of Japanese-Americans in internment camps ring out as Arabs, including the son of the Arab-American FBI agent, are herded into a stadium. Periodic audio-montages of "man in the street" sentiments anchor the material in the present and show how serious and relevant the material is. But finally what we have is a taut and entertaining popcorn movie, giving itself the humanistic nod when it can. --Jim Gay, Amazon.com