waco-casting

If we hadn’t just had word of the possible Benicio Del Toro / Cameron Diaz romantic comedy pairing, the cast currently attached to star in Rupert Wainwright‘s film Waco might seem like one of the strangest casting collections of the day: Kurt Russell, Adrien Brody and Sharon Stone are potentially teaming to recreate the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco that was led by David Koresh. The siege and actions that led to it cost the lives of 82 residents of the compound and 4 federal agents.

Production Weekly had the casting news in a tweet, while more info on the project comes from Wainwright’s own website. There, we find that,

WACO will be the first narrative feature film to explore the events of the ATF raid on Mt. Carmel, TX, the 51-day siege that followed, and the devastating compound fire that resulted in the deaths of 81 civilians. The movie cuts between ATF special agents, FBI Negotiators, the Davidians on the inside, the tactical Hostage Rescue Team leaders, and the political machinations in Washington DC.

Wainwright co-wrote the film with journalist James Hibberd, and has been provided with “expert and detailed research” by Michael McNulty, a writer and producer on the documentary Waco: The Rules of Engagement.

The history of the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco is littered with a few odd, violent events, such as the time in 1989 when one Davidian killed another with an axe. The events of the 1993 siege, however, began when the ATF attempted to execute a search warrant, based on information that suggested the compound was stockpiling weapons. The execution of that warrant led to a protracted gun battle that left four agents and six Davidians dead. There are arguments about which side fired first, with many believing that federal agents issued the first shots from helicopters which were officially said to be without weapons.

That battle led to a fifty-day siege upon the compound by the FBI, which ended with an assault on the compound and a fire which engulfed the property, killing 76 people, including leader David Koresh. The action was a massive black mark on the records of the FBI and Clinton’s justice department.

The siege and events surrounding it have been covered by a host of documentaries, but oddly never a feature film. It’s a complex story with a lot of important questions to pose about government action, and it would be so easy to over-simplify it. There’s plenty of interest in this story still, and given the anti-government sentiment that often goes along with conversations about these events, I have to wonder: will this be an action movie for the Tea Party movement?

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