The Looming Tower – Review

The Looming Tower premieres February 28th on Hulu.

By Ariba Bhuvad

Based on Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer-winning 9/11 expose comes Hulu’s next mini-series, The Looming Tower. Behind this straight-to-series adaptation is executive producer, Alex Gibney and a stellar cast inclusive of Jeff Daniels, Alec Baldwin, and Peter Sarsgaard.

This mini-series explores the controversial story that followed Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda’s rise to power in the 1990s. It reveals a rocky relationship between the CIA and FBI, and uncovers that it may have unknowingly contributed to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The series investigates the core of the volatile relationship between CIA analyst, Martin Schmidt (Peter Sarsgaard) and head of New York’s FBI Counter-Terrorism unit, John O’Neill (Jeff Daniels). As viewers, we quickly learn how deep rooted the animosity between the two departments is when Schmidt refused to share vital information about potential terrorists. The ironclad belief that only the CIA would be capable of handling such threats became the foundation for Looming Tower’s story, engaging, addicting, and shocking. And as the friction between the CIA and FBI increased (portrayed spot-on by lead and supporting actors), a path was quite possibly paved for one of America’s most devastating tragedies.

With such a controversial story to take on, the cast, crew, and creative minds behind it brought forth a series worth praising. Most notably, Daniels shone as his character, bringing the grit, sass, and attitude we all know and love him for. Sarsgaard, the CIA counterpart, matched Daniels’ talent by exuding a defiant and stubborn personality in Schmidt. Together, the two created a stressful and hectic atmosphere in which each character’s goal was ultimately the same—but the race to beat the other resulted in some of the most exceptional acting we have seen from Daniels and Sarsgaard to date.

Kudos to the phenomenal cast and writers that worked together to bring life to a very difficult story in America’s history—exploring its depths in a way many have not dared to before. The series unapologetically dove into a trying time for America, and explored the complexity of it without holding back. A great many movies and shows have taken on some form of this task in the past, but the collaboration of Gibney, Wright’s novel, and Hulu brought a honest, candid insight into this confusing, ambiguous chain of events. Each episode presented a political hurdle that became an obstacle to overcome or a truth incapable of facing—this became an ironic beauty of The Looming Tower. Disbelief, disgust, frustration and horror were the central theme of the story and incorporated seamlessly into the writing, acting, and plot.

The Looming Tower promises to be a captivating, emotional ride as it takes us back to a difficult, vexing time through its powerful storytelling. Bravo, Hulu, you’ve done it once again.

I give The Looming Tower an A-.


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