Movie Review: Wrong is Right

 

The best movies about the future are those that are not intended to be futuristic.  The problem with that is the only way we would know how prophetic its genius is if we actually live in the future It is portraying so we can recognize it.

This is the case with the rather obscure  1982 film “Wrong is Right” Starring Sean Connery, Katherine Ross, Robert Conrad and host of other journeyman actors of the 1980s, directed by Richard Brooks, who also adapted the screenplay from the novel, “The Better Angels” by Robert McCrary. The film, not in every sense mind you, but in some very familiar ways looks more like the second decade of the 21st century rather than the early 1980s. It isn’t on Netflix or HBO or anywhere else for free but you can buy it on Amazon or youtube if you want to see it.

Laden with just enough campy humor to suggest the story didn’t take itself too seriously. My guess is fast forward thirty years and making that film today, we would be much more serious about it. Of course, Hollywood would never think of it. It has already proven so cowardly that most movies about terrorism the culprit is not Islam but something else, criminal Russians, North Koreans, Castro’s Cubans South American drug lords, or any other criminal enterprise that is not connected with Islam.

The Dr. Strangelove satirical mist flavoring the story , camp style, humorous to a fault dialogue, preachy and insightful all at the same time makes “Wrong is Right” one of the more politically prolific relevant films for our time but not 1982. The movie was not recognized and didn’t do that well in the box office.  It kind of came and went as financially failing movies do.

The story centers around a news reporter, Sean Connery, and his contacts with Muslim extremists in the Arab world, namely a fictional nation “Hagreb” and its Allah believing leader which bears  striking resemblance to Saudi Arabia and  a PLO type group who is looking to procure on the black market two nuclear weapons, or in the vernacular of the day, “atomic bombs.” Suitcase bombs no less, which if you’re old enough to remember were something of a real concern at the time. Never proven it was believed that the Soviets had perfected a nuclear weapon to fit inside a normal size suitcase so it could be carried undetected. But, never mind that it made great fodder for Hollywood movies.

The Bombs first targets are Tel Aviv and Jerusalem but secondary targets are New York, which is where the plot takes us. The whole idea of sneaking a nuclear weapon into a major American city is the sum of all of our worst fears today, but was fantasy then and is played as such in the movie.

One of the striking realizations about this film is that it was made in the early 1980s released in 1982, under a different name in Europe and in the US in 1984. Before 9-11, before the first trade center attack in 1993 before Pam Am 103, before the Achille Lauro, just before the Hezbolllah bombing in Lebanon killing 240 Marines  and before Jihad actually became a real threat that we think about on a daily basis. Hollywood fantasy in 1982 has become a reality nightmare in 2016. In the early 80s most Muslim terror was not a concern for those in Paris, France, Fort Hood Texas or San Bernandino, California. In 2016 Jihad has become a household word.

Even the Iraqis who joined in the gloating and celebrating terror against Israel back then and fully sanctioned their leader, Saddam Hussein  financially supporting the murder of innocent Jews never thought in their wildest 1001 Arabian night dreams it would reach them. I don’t think they are celebrating any more.

“Wrong is Right” presents a  21st century mentality in a 1980s Reaganesque, cold war world. Futuristic in its approach without really intending for it to be that way.

Its seminal gaze into our future, is eerie when you watch this movie. Suicide bombers, although they just blow themselves up not anyone else. Even for the 1980s that  would have been too brutal a display of bloodshed for Americans.  After all, it came at a time when President Reagan called the Soviets the evil empire without even a nod to what was going on in Iran, Lebanon, or Libya. We only discovered that afterward.

Part of the charm of this film, even with its prophetic  genius, is definitely dated. There are no Arab actors or names in the cast or in the making of this film although half the characters are Muslim. It seems a little strange to be watching Henry Silva, an American actor known for gangster roles and black hatted cowboys playing the Arafat character. Come to think of it maybe that wasn’t such a wrong choice after all. Muslim attitudes toward women are about the same now as they were in the 80s since treatment of women in Islam really hasn’t changed in 1400 years, it’s a little silly to have a blond haired American Christian woman to be a front line officer in the movie’s depiction of the PLO type terror group. But that was Hollywood’s ignorance in 1980.

The ending of the movie is…well you see the movie and comment here of what you think of the ending. I have my opinion but I want to wait to discuss it.

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