Review – 9/11: Inside the President’s War Room (2021)

by Kevin Muller

It is hard to believe that it’s been twenty years since 9/11. Everyone has their personal story about where they were and how it affected them. Over the last two decades the world has been changed by that event. The influence of that day runs through every faucet of American life. Countless books, think pieces, films, tv shows, and criticisms have been made about that sunny September day. There have also been countless documentaries about the impact of that infamous day. Does this one stand out?

In 9/11: Inside the President’s War Room, we get the perspectives of the Bush administration and how they dealt with all the emotions and problems during September 11th. The film focuses on that one day. Jeff Daniels narrates the journey President Bush took from the classroom in Florida to addressing the nation that night.  Even though he doesn’t go through the horrors that the people at Ground Zero, or on any of those planes, did it was still an emotional journey for him as the President. What started out as a simple day of being the special guest at a Florida elementary school, soon turned into the infamous day in history. At first, he, like many of us, thought the first plane was an unfortunate accident, but soon after Tower 2 was hit, he knew his nation was under attack.

What stands out the most about this Apple TV+ produced project is the appearances and interviews of the big players of the Bush Administration. Everyone from former Secretary of Transportation, Norman Mineta, to a more well-known player, former Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, get time to share their thoughts about that day.  Even former Vice-President, Dick Cheney, who has had health issues over the last few years, sounds sharp as he revisits the turmoil of trying to figure out how many planes were taken and what to do about it.  Director Adam Wishart fills the screen with photographs, many that have never been seen before, that help give the emotional punch that he is looking for. The question is, will audiences buy into what he is selling.

The film drops at an unfortunate time in both America and the world. With all the chaos in the Middle East, will people want to watch a film that conjures the memories of that day and the war that resulted from it?  Will people sympathize with Bush?   Wishart paints a flattering picture of the former president.  Back during his two terms in office, you couldn’t go anywhere without a criticism or harsh joke about him. It is wild to see that he isn’t as vilified as he was back then. “W” also helps with this since everything he says comes off as genuine. If you have read his 2010 biography Decision Points, along with his Cheney’s 2012 In My Time, you will understand why Wishart puts Bush front and center, while Cheney gets less time. Bush’s charm can make the worst circumstances seem hopeful, while Cheney has a more cut and dry approach to life.   That said, the documentary will not change your mind about 43 or the people around him, if your mind is set. Sure, there are some interesting facts that you learn about the day. For political junkies, we learn how careful America was not to ignite any suspicion between us and the Russians, based upon our reaction to the attack. For the most part though, we learn personal obstacles that Bush had to face, such as wanting to get back to Washington or that planes back then didn’t have strong television signals. While in the air, the President only got solid information when the plane was above the city where there was an antenna strong enough to connect to Air Force One.

Wishart’s documentary is complimentary of Bush and what had to be the most difficult day for any president in American history. The impact of the documentary will be decided on the viewer. If you still have hate for the man who sent us to war, proceed with caution. If you harbor love, appreciation, and understanding for him, give it a chance. Overall, it is a decent documentary that may not bring up anything we don’t already know, but it will give you an understanding of the importance and challenge of being the leader of the free world.

I am giving 9/11: Inside the President’s War Room a 3.5 out of 5 Hairpieces!

9/11: Inside the President’s War Room premieres on September 1 on Apple TV+ that explores the events of September 11, 2001 through the eyes of President Bush and his closest advisors as they personally detail the crucial hours and key decisions from that historic day. The documentary special will also be available to watch on September 11 for free in honor of the 20th anniversary. “

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