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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.