Posted on Monday, February 11th, 2013 by Angie Han
It’s a given that any film “based on a true story” will harbor several inaccuracies, from minor factual errors to wholesale fabrications. But perhaps because it’s based on such recent events, Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty has attracted more than its fair share of controversy over its portrayal of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Some have decried its use of artistic license, others have commended it for its attention to detail, still others have wondered if Bigelow knew too much, and so on.
Now a guy who should really know what he’s talking about is weighing in on the issues. In a new interview, the SEAL Team 6 member who actually shot and killed the terrorist leader offers his two cents regarding Zero Dark Thirty‘s relationship to real-life events. In a nutshell: “They Hollywooded it up some.” Hit the jump to keep reading.
The comments come from Esquire‘s in-depth profile of “The Shooter,” as he’s called throughout the article. “It was fun to watch,” he says of Zero Dark Thirty. “There was just little stuff. The helos turned the wrong way [toward the target], and they talked way, way too much [during the assault itself]. If someone was waiting for you, they could track your movements that way.”
In general, his biggest complaint seems to be that the characters were too chatty. The movie’s SEAL Team 6 converse on the helicopter ride over, where they would’ve remained silent in real life, and the actors yell to each other during the mission when a silent hand signal would’ve sufficed. (“Are you fucking kidding me? Shut up!” says the Shooter in response.) Plus, “When Osama went down, it was chaos, people screaming. No one called his name,” he notes.
Otherwise, his nitpicks are relatively minor, as when he calls the actors’ tattoos “horrible” or points out that it was a Belgian Malinois who went on the mission with them, not a German shepherd. And he’s very much on board with the “awesome” representation of “Maya,” the CIA agent whose drive spurred on the hunt for bin Laden. “They made her a tough woman, which she is,” he says.
The Shooter likely can’t speak to whether some of the film’s earlier scenes are true to life, but based on his comparisons it sounds like the climax was actually fairly accurate, as big Hollywood movies go. Contrast that to, say, the airport scene in Argo, which was created out of nowhere to ramp up the tension in the final act. To read the rest of Esquire‘s very worthwhile article, click here (h/t The Playlist).