Lawrence to Direct Delta Force Prison Riot Movie

Two movies in, and two hits to his credit. That’s Francis Lawrence’s career as a movie director so far. (“Constantine” was decent, and “I am Legend” was, well, it was a hit, if nothing else.) Lawrence’s latest will be a true story about a prison riot in 1987 where hostages were taken and the Army’s uber badass Delta Force unit is called in to take care of the situation. I’ve never even heard of something like this happening before (Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, anyone?), but damn if it doesn’t make for a potentially great action movie. Lawrence will be directing for Warner Bros. from a script by Ari Rubin. The story was unearthed by “Black Hawk Down” novelist Mark Bowden during his research for “Black Hawk”, so you can expect a pretty accurate telling of the event. Or at least, what we think we know about the event, as with anything involving Delta Force, the facts can get a bit muddled.

More on the true story and movie premise:

The project tells the true story of the riots and siege of Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in 1987. Cuban and American prisoners seized control of the maximum security facility and took more than 100 federal prison staff members hostage. The situation was so extreme that the FBI’s hostage rescue team was ill-equipped to handle the riots, and Delta Force, the Special Forces detachment, was called in to retake the prison.

Don’t expect a straight-on action movie, as the true story behind the prison riot is pretty interesting in and of itself. Back in 1987, then-President Reagan made a deal with Cuba’s Fidel Castro to send 2500 Cuban immigrants back to Cuba, including Cubans who had been convicted of crimes and locked up. This led to riots by Cubans locked up in the Atlanta prison and another prison in Oakdale, Louisiana. After getting a request from the Attorney General for assistance, the Pentagon sent about 100 Special Forces personnel to Atlanta as “advisors”. The Pentagon denied reports that Delta Force was also sent to storm the prison. The NYTimes has an article on the riot and the military involvement here.

So what really happened? Did Delta Force do more than just advise? Sure, I could do more research for you, but what would be the fun of that? Let’s just wait until the movie comes out and veg out in the theater like usual, shall we?

Below: It’s not just a game, it’s an adventure.



About Nix

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Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.

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  • Armando Sanchez-Garcia

    I was in Atlanta in 1987, i was one on the cuban been detiened a this federal prison, i play a big part in that riot, i save many life and went on to live my life in this country. Now iam reading about this movie and i see that you need to find the real thruh about that Riot. Feel free to contact me, iam wiiling to talk to Mr. Francis Lawrence. loveogun@gmail.com
    Thank you for your time and great understanding …
    Armando Sanchez-Garcia.

  • Armando Sanchez-Garcia

    I was in Atlanta in 1987, i was one on the cuban been detiened a this federal prison, i play a big part in that riot, i save many life and went on to live my life in this country. Now iam reading about this movie and i see that you need to find the real thruh about that Riot. Feel free to contact me, iam wiiling to talk to Mr. Francis Lawrence. loveogun@gmail.com
    Thank you for your time and great understanding …
    Armando Sanchez-Garcia.

  • Armando Sanchez-Garcia

    I was in Atlanta in 1987, i was one on the cuban been detiened a this federal prison, i play a big part in that riot, i save many life and went on to live my life in this country. Now iam reading about this movie and i see that you need to find the real thruh about that Riot. Feel free to contact me, iam wiiling to talk to Mr. Francis Lawrence. loveogun@gmail.com
    Thank you for your time and great understanding …
    Armando Sanchez-Garcia.

  • Armando Sanchez-Garcia

    I was in Atlanta in 1987, i was one on the cuban been detiened a this federal prison, i play a big part in that riot, i save many life and went on to live my life in this country. Now iam reading about this movie and i see that you need to find the real thruh about that Riot. Feel free to contact me, iam wiiling to talk to Mr. Francis Lawrence. loveogun@gmail.com
    Thank you for your time and great understanding …
    Armando Sanchez-Garcia.

  • Michael rendon

    I was at the 1987 riot also, accept I was outside of the wall practicing our would be entry into the chapel to rescue the hostages. I know the film is supposed to be about the Delta Force coming to save the day, and I’m sure that it makes for a good movie, but the only Delta Force member assigned to the team that was assigned to take the Chapel was a demolition expert who was to blow open the front door to the chapel which had been welded shut. A U.S. Border Patrol team was to proceed upstairs to rescue the majority of the hostages held there, with an FBI team which was to proceed downstairs to deal with a rigged bomb system prepared by the inmates in case a rescue was attempted. The Border Patrol was assigned to the chapel because its members all spoke Spanish. We were instructed by FBI National HRT team members during the entire standoff. Negotiations were conducted by FBI negotiators. We were at the gate twice when negotiations broke down and when it was feared that a killer inmate named Silverstein might harm the hostages.

    I’m sure there are things that Delta Force did during the riot and standoff, but to my knowledge, they came in only about midway through the standoff and except for the explosive expert assigned to our team, I had no contact with others. It was a Thanksgiving that I will never forget!

    I’m looking forward to the movie!

    Michael Rendon

  • Michael rendon

    I was at the 1987 riot also, accept I was outside of the wall practicing our would be entry into the chapel to rescue the hostages. I know the film is supposed to be about the Delta Force coming to save the day, and I’m sure that it makes for a good movie, but the only Delta Force member assigned to the team that was assigned to take the Chapel was a demolition expert who was to blow open the front door to the chapel which had been welded shut. A U.S. Border Patrol team was to proceed upstairs to rescue the majority of the hostages held there, with an FBI team which was to proceed downstairs to deal with a rigged bomb system prepared by the inmates in case a rescue was attempted. The Border Patrol was assigned to the chapel because its members all spoke Spanish. We were instructed by FBI National HRT team members during the entire standoff. Negotiations were conducted by FBI negotiators. We were at the gate twice when negotiations broke down and when it was feared that a killer inmate named Silverstein might harm the hostages.

    I’m sure there are things that Delta Force did during the riot and standoff, but to my knowledge, they came in only about midway through the standoff and except for the explosive expert assigned to our team, I had no contact with others. It was a Thanksgiving that I will never forget!

    I’m looking forward to the movie!

    Michael Rendon

  • Michael rendon

    I was at the 1987 riot also, accept I was outside of the wall practicing our would be entry into the chapel to rescue the hostages. I know the film is supposed to be about the Delta Force coming to save the day, and I’m sure that it makes for a good movie, but the only Delta Force member assigned to the team that was assigned to take the Chapel was a demolition expert who was to blow open the front door to the chapel which had been welded shut. A U.S. Border Patrol team was to proceed upstairs to rescue the majority of the hostages held there, with an FBI team which was to proceed downstairs to deal with a rigged bomb system prepared by the inmates in case a rescue was attempted. The Border Patrol was assigned to the chapel because its members all spoke Spanish. We were instructed by FBI National HRT team members during the entire standoff. Negotiations were conducted by FBI negotiators. We were at the gate twice when negotiations broke down and when it was feared that a killer inmate named Silverstein might harm the hostages.

    I’m sure there are things that Delta Force did during the riot and standoff, but to my knowledge, they came in only about midway through the standoff and except for the explosive expert assigned to our team, I had no contact with others. It was a Thanksgiving that I will never forget!

    I’m looking forward to the movie!

    Michael Rendon

  • Michael rendon

    I was at the 1987 riot also, accept I was outside of the wall practicing our would be entry into the chapel to rescue the hostages. I know the film is supposed to be about the Delta Force coming to save the day, and I’m sure that it makes for a good movie, but the only Delta Force member assigned to the team that was assigned to take the Chapel was a demolition expert who was to blow open the front door to the chapel which had been welded shut. A U.S. Border Patrol team was to proceed upstairs to rescue the majority of the hostages held there, with an FBI team which was to proceed downstairs to deal with a rigged bomb system prepared by the inmates in case a rescue was attempted. The Border Patrol was assigned to the chapel because its members all spoke Spanish. We were instructed by FBI National HRT team members during the entire standoff. Negotiations were conducted by FBI negotiators. We were at the gate twice when negotiations broke down and when it was feared that a killer inmate named Silverstein might harm the hostages.

    I’m sure there are things that Delta Force did during the riot and standoff, but to my knowledge, they came in only about midway through the standoff and except for the explosive expert assigned to our team, I had no contact with others. It was a Thanksgiving that I will never forget!

    I’m looking forward to the movie!

    Michael Rendon

  • Scotty Hall

    Every word that Mike Rendon wrote is the absolute truth. The Mean Green was tasked with the assault on the chapel which contained the largest number of hostages. We were trained in the assault plan by the FBI HRT and trained daily to hone the operation. We went to ‘phaseline yellow’ twice and loaded in the cargo trucks for the assault. At one point we entered the sallyport on the railroad tracks which was inside the perimeter. However, we did not go to ‘phaseline green’ and execute the mission, in each instance we stood down. I was there on point when the Cubans threw Thomas Sliverstein to the US Marshal’s as a sign of good will. Silverstein was going to kill some of the hostages.

    I met three DELTA operators, two who were medics and the one demolition/EOD operator who was there to blow the door on the chapel. However, once the Oakdale prison operation was terminated in Lousiana an additional FBI HRT team arrived and took up residence in a carpentry building adjacent to the prison. They were extremely ‘salty’ and could have been DELTA. They had the ‘look’ and instilled confidence with their demeanor. Almost immediately their CO banished me from returning to the carpentry building. Within a day of their arrival our mission changed from the assault on the chapel to a secondary role of security and the eventual sweep of the prison which we executed upon surrender of the Cubans.

    I served with Border Patrol Agent Michael Rendon and can vouch that he stood his ground and did his job.

  • Scotty Hall

    Every word that Mike Rendon wrote is the absolute truth. The Mean Green was tasked with the assault on the chapel which contained the largest number of hostages. We were trained in the assault plan by the FBI HRT and trained daily to hone the operation. We went to ‘phaseline yellow’ twice and loaded in the cargo trucks for the assault. At one point we entered the sallyport on the railroad tracks which was inside the perimeter. However, we did not go to ‘phaseline green’ and execute the mission, in each instance we stood down. I was there on point when the Cubans threw Thomas Sliverstein to the US Marshal’s as a sign of good will. Silverstein was going to kill some of the hostages.

    I met three DELTA operators, two who were medics and the one demolition/EOD operator who was there to blow the door on the chapel. However, once the Oakdale prison operation was terminated in Lousiana an additional FBI HRT team arrived and took up residence in a carpentry building adjacent to the prison. They were extremely ‘salty’ and could have been DELTA. They had the ‘look’ and instilled confidence with their demeanor. Almost immediately their CO banished me from returning to the carpentry building. Within a day of their arrival our mission changed from the assault on the chapel to a secondary role of security and the eventual sweep of the prison which we executed upon surrender of the Cubans.

    I served with Border Patrol Agent Michael Rendon and can vouch that he stood his ground and did his job.