The Looming Tower: Miniseries (2018)


Miniseries
The Looming Tower

Critics Consensus

Well-acted and powerfully written, The Looming Tower delivers gripping counter-terrorism drama rendered even more soberingly effective through its roots in real-life events.

88%

TOMATOMETER

Critic Ratings: 60

66%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 597

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Episodes

Air date: Feb 28, 2018

John O'Neill, the chief of the FBI's counter-terrorism unit, invites rookie agent Ali Soufan, a Muslim-American, onto his squad; they soon realize that their work is just the beginning when two American embassies are bombed.

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Air date: Feb 28, 2018

Following the simultaneous embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the FBI begins a ground investigation while the CIA starts working on a retaliation plan.

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Air date: Feb 28, 2018

The FBI finds one of the surviving terrorists and discovers a game-changing lead in Nairobi; the CIA's retaliation plan is approved.

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Air date: Mar 7, 2018

Continuing to keep information from the FBI, Schmidt is fired from Alec Station; Diane makes an important discovery about the owner of the phone number Owhali gave Chensey; O'Neill searches for solace in his faith.

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Air date: Mar 14, 2018

The CIA and FBI are on high alert as threats surrounding the new millennium abound; O'Neill and Soufan raid an AQ cell in Brooklyn; the CIA continues to hide vital information from the FBI while they track suspicious individuals entering the U.S.

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Air date: Mar 21, 2018

Vince continues asking for permission to share Mihdhar's visa with the FBI; O'Neill loses his briefcase and an investigation into his handling of classified materials begins; a radicalized boy goes to Yemen to start his own martyrdom journey.

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Air date: Mar 28, 2018

O'Neill and Soufan travel to Yemen to begin the investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole; the FBI becomes aware of a meeting in Malaysia and of Khallad, without knowing the CIA has been aware of both of those things for months.

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Air date: Apr 4, 2018

Everyone adjusts to a new president and, with it, a shift in threat priority; Soufan learns the importance of UBL's bodyguard; O'Neill is denied re-entry into Yemen and forced to resign; the terrorists in the U.S. are lost by their handler.

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Air date: Apr 11, 2018

The CIA becomes aware that Hazmi and Mihdhar are gone and must relay that to the FBI; O'Neill accepts a job as head of security at the World Trade Center; Soufan is sent back to Yemen; Hazmi, Mihdhar and Atta head to Vegas for a final indulgence.

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Air date: Apr 18, 2018

Nobody can get a hold of O'Neill on Sept. 11, 2001; Soufan's evacuation from Yemen stops short as the CIA Station Chief gives him the answers he has been seeking from the CIA; Schmidt is reinstated into Alec Station; Soufan interrogates Abu Jandal.

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The Looming Tower: Miniseries Photos

Tv Season Info

Cast & Crew

Jeff Daniels
John O'Neill

Actor
Tahar Rahim
Ali Soufan

Actor
Wrenn Schmidt
Diane Marsh

Actor
Bill Camp
Robert Chesney

Actor
Louis Cancelmi
Vince Stuart

Actor
Virginia Kull
Kathy Shaughnessy

Actor
Ella Rae Peck
Heather

Actor
Sullivan Jones
Floyd Bennet

Actor
Michael Stuhlbarg
Richard Clarke

Actor
Peter Sarsgaard
Martin Schmidt

Actor
Dan Futterman
Executive Producer
Alex Gibney
Executive Producer
Lawrence Wright
Executive Producer
Craig Zisk
Executive Producer
Adam Rapp
Executive Producer
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Critic Reviews for The Looming Tower: Miniseries

Audience Reviews for The Looming Tower: Miniseries

  • Apr 12, 2021
    Watching in 2021 - a good overview of the events leading up to 9/11. Good acting and a great cast. Hopefully the FBI and CIA got their acts together after this embarrassing show of ego's within each departments head.
  • Feb 04, 2021
    It's never as gripping, nor as insightful, as its Pulitzer Prize-winning source material, but The Looming Tower is a well-acted and painfully resonant exploration of the unchecked personalities, internal warfare and frustrating failures at American intelligence agencies prior to 9/11.
  • Feb 03, 2021
    The same clumsy mistakes the Congress, Senate, FBI & CIA made in fighting foreign terrorism & the run-up to 9/11, we are re-making in the fight against conspirscy-based domestic terrorism. "We don't need to attack the United States. We will bankrupt them." said Usama bin Laden in the interview he gave before 9/11. He didn't only mean money.
  • Jan 01, 2021
    An excellent series. How many got to see this. Should be broadcast on regular channels. A real jewel
  • Aug 19, 2020
    Unbelievably false and cringeworthy dialogue. It's absolutely unbearable to watch these wind-up human cartoons say dumb things to each other. O'Neil and his girlfriends in particular sound like a parody in the style of Hot Shots. There is no chance of enjoying a story under these conditions.
  • May 30, 2020
    acting is just fcking terrible
  • Nov 27, 2019
    An absolutely enthralling representation of the build up to this terrible atrocity.
  • Oct 28, 2019
    Well put-together, poignant, and interesting. Picture Homeland, only easier to follow and reality-based.
  • Oct 02, 2019
    it is 1 of the best dramas of the year
  • Sep 16, 2019
    Complex, intelligent, and sobering; superb television Based on Lawrence Wright's 2006 book, The Looming Tower tells the story of how the 9/11 attacks were made possible by the internecine squabbling between the CIA and FBI. However, whereas the majority of the book deals with al-Qaeda, the series focuses almost exclusively on the American perspective. Certainly, there are depictions of some of the terrorists; but this is an American story. And although the binary of CIA=bad/FBI=good is too neat, this is sobering TV, at its best as it depicts how easily these events could have been prevented. Although framed by the 9/11 Commission in 2004, the story begins in 1998, with both the CIA and FBI each having a dedicated "bin Laden unit". The CIA's Alec Station is run by Martin Schmidt (a pretentious and reptilian Peter Sarsgaard playing a thinly-fictionalised Michael Scheuer), whilst the FBI's I-49 is run by John O'Neill (a boisterous and foul-mouthed Jeff Daniels). Each unit is required to share intelligence with the other, but, in reality, they don't share much of anything except insults, whilst in between the two is Richard Clarke (Michael Stuhlbarg), National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism. As the show begins, bin Laden (referred to primarily as UBL) is interviewed for ABC News, promising a grand statement unless the US pull out of the Middle East. The majority of Americans, however, are more interested in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Developed for TV by Wright, Dan Futterman, and Alex Gibney, an element to which the show returns time and again is the underestimation of UBL. This is initially touched on in "Now It Begins...", with Ali Soufan (Tahar Ramin), a young Lebanese-born FBI agent, telling O'Neill, "he used the interview to appear strong by threatening the United States as he looked an American directly in the eye." In "Mercury", Soufan explains, "killing Bin Laden is only going to secure his legend and inspire more martyrs." Later in this episode, O'Neill tells Schmidt, "this isn't a war about one man. Bin Laden is an ideologue, not some plutocrat running a banana republic. His people actually believe. It's bin Laden-ism we're up against, not just bin Laden." This underestimation is even more pronounced under the Bush presidency, leading to some of the show's best scenes. For example, in "A Very in Relationship", newly appointed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Eisa Davis) interrupts Clarke as he's giving a presentation on al-Qaeda, telling him he's being too long-winded. A later scene in the same episode has O'Neill stunned when Rice doesn't know who he is. An extraordinarily well-written scene, it's the only time we see O'Neill lost for words. Another major theme is faith, especially the lapsed faith of O'Neill and Soufan. O'Neill was raised a catholic, but no longer practices, which troubles Liz (Annie Parisse), one of his two mistresses, who believes him (incorrectly) to be divorced. Soufan no longer practises Islam, but the faith-based nature of al-Qaeda troubles him ("when people use my religion to justify this s**t, it affects me"). Indeed, one of the most welcome elements of the show is the depiction of Muslims in general, challenging the notion that all Muslims are Islamic fundamentalists. Important here is Hoda al-Hada (July Namir), wife of one of the hijackers. She doesn't subscribe in any way to her husband's belief in UBL and is more concerned with her children knowing their father than the otherworldly blessings of Allah. When it comes to the acting, Bill Camp (playing Robert Chesney, one of O'Neill's most reliable agents) and Michael Stuhlbarg are the standouts. Camp is given an amazing eight-minute scene in "Mistakes Were Made" where he is quiet and calm, fondly remembering his military service, before exploding at the right moment. Stuhlbarg plays Clarke as perennially frustrated, and although he never lets Clarke's quiet politeness slip, on several occasions, he hovers tantalisingly close, in what is an exceptionally subtle and nuanced performance. In terms of problems, there's nothing on al-Qaeda's background, hugely important context that was one of Wright's main themes. The various romantic subplots feel rote, generic, and emotionally inauthentic; elements forced into the story so as to counter the testosterone-soaked main narrative. Another issue is the rigid binary distinction between the FBI and CIA (and between O'Neill and Schmidt), which never feels completely authentic. Nevertheless, The Looming Tower is taut and complex. The story is streamlined, but it hasn't been drained of moral complexity, serving as a reminder of something with great importance today – with UBL literally telling the US he was going to attack, everyone was more focused on a semen-stained dress. And living, as we do, in an era where the American media is routinely distracted by irrelevancies, it seems the lessons of history have not been heeded.

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