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Film Review: Code Name: Geronimo

11th December 2012

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The extremely popular American drama Homeland seems to have spurned a new love of terrorist thrillers, where scenes constantly flick from a slick CIA office in Washington to the back streets of Afghanistan tailing a car full of guys with guns. Combining brains with brawl, sophisticated technology with pure muscle: that’s what the public want.

At least, John Stockwell seems to be under this impression. His cinematically released US TV movie Code Name: Geronimo leads the viewer through the lives of three specific groups of people: a CIA Analyst and his team heading operations in Langley, VA; two surveillance ops watching and following in Afghanistan; and a group of SEAL operatives, trained up in Virginia and eventually sent to Afghanistan on a mission to kill Osama Bin Laden.

The issue is that, in reality, the hunt for Osama Bin Laden was a hell of a lot of waiting, followed by a brief highly successful raid, then job done. Consequently, the film meanders along this path of introducing characters, giving some back-story and having brief moments of suspense (such as an ambush on an Afghanistan mountainside). And then in the last twenty minutes they decide to go in for the kill, everything goes according to plan and then that’s it.

 It seems that, really, the story of Osama Bin Laden’s death is only famous and film-worthy because of who he is, not because of what happened. There were no casualties, there was no trick played: he was in there and they killed him. The Americans got the bad guy and it could not have gone better.

However, this somewhat lack of eventual suspense is partly compensated by reactions to the death itself, giving the film some depth. Vivian (played rather stonily by Kathleen Robertson) is nothing but thrilled by the result, as it proves all of her ideas and hunches correct. But her colleague Christian (played well by Eddie Kaye Thomas, who TNS readers will surely recognise as the legendary ‘Finch’ from American Pie) seems less overjoyed, but whether because of the success of his colleague or the death of a legend is less clear.

The Lieutenant Commander (whose shoes are filled admirably by Robert Knepper) and the head of the team Stunner (given heart by Cam Giganet, making an obvious departure from previous roles in Twilight and Easy A) see the death as just a job, now completed. Or does the death represent something more to these men, both who have lost someone and perhaps hoped completing the mission would fill the void left in their lives?

Some worthy performances, nifty camera work and a strong score by Paul Haslinger make this film worth a watch. However, it does suffer from its TV movie background, moving more like an episode of CSI than a film, and the lack of complications and heightened suspense in the climax can’t quite be made up for by the previous sixty minute build up.

Code Name: Geronimo is released on 14th December. 

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