Critical Condition: The Looming Tower

The Looming Tower | SoHo, 8.30 Thursday

➢ “Hulu asserted its ambition last year with the dystopian literary adaptation The Handmaid’s Tale, a drama that resonated with viewers thanks to its congruence with certain strains in the culture in 2017. Now the streaming service is hoping for continued success with The Looming Tower, a series attempting a similar trick: adapting a respected book (nonfiction this time) into a series that’s both gripping and relevant. It succeeds, with a project that restages the years before Sept. 11 and tells a darkly ironic story about the fecklessness of government.” — Time.

➢ “Through the first three of its 10 hours, this adaptation of Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer-winning book is the sort of slice of history that one used to find on HBO: sturdy, serious and star-studdedThe Looming Tower begins in 1998 and, as conceived by Wright and co-creators Dan Futterman (Capote) and prolific Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, it’s a horror story of inevitability as dueling teams of FBI and CIA operatives begin to recognise the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida and, through interdepartmental bickering, lack of information-sharing, poor management of egos and sheer misfortune, stumble right up to the events of Sept. 11, 2001.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

➢ “Tower feels like a real-life Homeland, with romantic subplots uneasily shoehorned into a narrative that shifts between tense missions abroad and heated debates behind close doors. … Looming over it all is our own terrible knowledge of where this will end on 9/11.” — TV Guide.

➢ “In 2018, The Looming Tower sits in an odd place. So much has happened since the events it depicts that it feels like ancient history. But so much has happened — and continues to happen — precisely because of the events it depicts, that the book now feels unequal to its task. Perhaps turning it into a sentimental cop show was the only sensible approach.” — New York Times.

➢ “The show’s disclaimer about fudging some facts to smooth the story out makes it difficult to decide if you should Google along with it (or thumb through Wright’s book) trying to nail down its accuracy … The essential thrust of The Looming Tower has made it to the TV screen intact, but should the series have an obligation to tell it exactly like it was? Or will a creatively told story about the truth, which is sometimes very close to the truth, suffice?” — The Washington Post.

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