At first glance, The Siege looks to be a jingoistic, typically heroic American patriot film. But upon further review, and if you honestly give this movie a chance and listen to what it has to say, you'll see that it wants us to listen, it wants us to learn and it wants us to just look at the possibilities of " what if? ".
This is one of the best movies that I have seen in recent years and what kind of stumps me is the negative criticism surrounding the film, not just the complaint of racism ( I'll get into that later ) but about the film in general. And I have come to a conclusion that not everybody will agree with and certainly many will dislike.
The positive reviews that have been in the IMDb have been, at least a great many of them, from people that are nationalities other than American. And perhaps the reason for that is that we can sit back and look at the U.S. from afar and it may be easier for us ( as non Americans ) to understand more clearly what this movie is trying to say. And it may be easier for us ( whatever nationality we happen to be ) to understand what is wrong with America and why a film like this is just trying to give one possible reason for the decay of American society. That is not to say that our own countries don't have problems, because they do, but we can just see what is wrong with America a little easier, we are not blinded by our own patriotism. It may be easier still for perhaps Europeans to appreciate the movie even more than others because maybe their own countries have been under siege at one point or another. And maybe the relevance is that much more prevalent when you have been that close to something.
And what this movie has to say perhaps should not be taken lightly.
Steve Martin's character in " The Grand Canyon " uttered the line " watch the movies, they have all of life's answers. " Perhaps that has never been more true than what this film's message is. And I believe that message is that sooner or later if there is always going to be that one watch dog, that one Big Brother that is known as the United States, then something like this may happen. What if....
I truly believe this movie has been unfairly criticized about it's apparent racist tones. Every time there is a bombing by terrorists that are Arab in heritage, there is always a scene that follows where the Arab leagues lend their support and let the FBI know that they want these criminals brought to justice just as much as anyone does. " They love this country just as much as we do. " Denzel says in one of his speeches to the people in charge. Is it really racism when a movie tries to explore what could happen when one body of government takes matters in their own hands and breaks international law? To me every effort was made to show Arabs as normal, family loving, law abiding, peaceful citizens that they are. A bunch of Arab terrorists does not mean that all Arabs are fanatics that are bent on destroying America. That perception is like believing that all we as Canadians do is play hockey, drink beer and play in the snow.
The movie itself is so well acted and it is so well written that I really can't understand why Washington did not get a nod for best actor. He is mesmerizing. And I think his final confrontation with the general is tense, and brilliant.
Washington plays Hub, a very patriotic, by the book FBI agent that is personally affected by all the chaos that has ensued in his city, and he plays him brilliantly. Bening and Shaloub are also wonderful in their roles and the music in the film is haunting. Willis is a little weak in the film but that is minor in comparison to the rest of the movie.
If you haven't seen this film because of what you have heard, give it a chance, it is well worth it. And try to watch it and listen to what it has to say. You may be surprised. I'm not sure if something like this could ever happen to the US, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.