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Hollywood races to tell the story of the Osama bin Laden raid

Will Perkins
Wide Screen
August 28, 2012

Whenever a historic or world-changing event occurs, Hollywood is eager to tell the tale of what happened. A perfect example is an event like the dramatic assassination of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by US Navy SEALs in 2011. The daring special forces raid has movie written all over it.

Which is why it should come as no surprise that there are already several films set to dramatize the operation on the big screen, chief among them being Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" and John Stockwell's "Code Name: Geronimo." Of the two movies, the "Hurt Locker" director's film is by far the more high profile (Bigelow's military thriller features notable actors like Joel Edgerton, Jessica Chastain, and Mark Strong), but both films feature massive casts full of recognizable names. As for Stockwell, the "Blue Crush" director's medium-budget action movie just wouldn't be the same without the presence of rapper-turned-actor-turned-Internet meme Xzibit in the mix, though it's doubtful he'll be flinging any "Yo dawgs" about.

But on Monday of this week, there were rumours that an even bigger name was horning in on Bigelow and Stockwell's bin Laden hunting territory -- perhaps the biggest name in all of Hollywood: Steven Spielberg. According to the New York Post's sources, the legendary director of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Schindler's List" was in talks to adapt the forthcoming book "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden" by Mark Owen, the alias of the Special Forces operative who allegedly took part in the raid. However, Spielberg's reps subsequently told The Wrap that the director and studio Dreamworks had no plans to option the book.

So, was it a publicity stunt to promote Owens' book, or did talks actually take place? We may never know, but Spielberg's representative seemed pretty adamant that the director will have nothing to do with the project.

Still, it's interesting to imagine what a Spielberg "No Easy Day" could have looked like. With "Code Name: Geronimo" due out this fall and "Zero Dark Thirty" out sometime next year, what could Spielberg hope add to the story, other than his trademark broad appeal and grating sentimentality that the director has become notorious for? Something in the vein of his gripping and thematically-similar 2005 film "Munich" would have been a real treat, but the film could just as easily become "Warhorse 2: Waziristan Calling." These days, it's tough to tell which Spielberg you'll get when he has a new movie coming out. We would have liked to see the "Munich"-styled version very much.

Spielberg is an in-demand filmmaker and producer. By associating their book with the famed director, Owens and company may have just been trying to sell a few more copies. Mission accomplished, sailor. P.R. maneuverings aside, one look at Spielberg's upcoming schedule reveals that making a "No Easy Day" movie was probably never in the cards anyway. The director's next movie, the biopic "Lincoln" starring Daniel Day Lewis as the sixteenth President of the United States, is due out in November, and his next project, "Robopocalypse," is slated for release in 2014. There would have been very little time to film a big-budget military-thriller in between those two movies.

Audiences will get to see the hunt for Osama bin Laden play out in theatres, but Spielberg will definitely not be the person behind the camera.

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