Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror Review 2021 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew
Star: James LaPorta
A day that started simply as a beautiful Tuesday morning, rapidly turned into one dominated by chaos and fear.
A series of terrorist attacks on American symbols of power left the nation – and the world – stunned.
As one of the many contributors to Netflix’s excellent new docuseries Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror puts it, “no one knew who attacked us, why they had attacked us, or what attacks were coming next”.
However, as the first of five episodes recounts though, there had been plenty of warnings that something big was imminent, and it was a geopolitical and ideological storm that had been brewing ever since the Russians invaded Afghanistan more than two decades before.
Via a potent cocktail of emotional and insightful testimony from a series of those employed in New York’s World Trade Center that fateful day, heart-stopping, jaw-dropping footage of American Flight 11 and United 175’s final moments (some of which I don’t recall having seen before) and audio from both onboard and air traffic controllers, the opening 20 minutes offer gripping, harrowing, unsettling viewing that no Hollywood reconstruction could ever top.
You really get a feeling of what it was like to have been in the Twin Towers that day. What’s striking is how similar their stories of a building shaking and crashing sound to my own recollection of being in central Christchurch almost a decade later.
Also notable is how calm everyone sounded with regards to the plane hijackings, from polite air traffic suggestions that maybe the airforce should scramble some F-16s to American Airlines’ flight attendant Betty Ong informing her bosses of the stabbings and fear onboard, with all the grace and efficiency of an inflight safety briefing.
After such a bold, bravura and breathtaking start, Turning Point then shifts its attention to the events leading up to September 2001. What follows also doubles an excellent and perfectly timed primer on what has led to the current nightmare unfolding in Afghanistan.
Former officials from US presidential administrations, the CIA and military veterans reveal how, from the day the Soviet tanks rolled into Kabul, America was determined to drive them out, no matter how much money and manpower it cost.
Within six years, one-third (about 13 million) of the Afghan population had been killed, wounded or driven into exile. It would be almost another four years before the Soviets walked away.
What changed the war, one commentator says, was the American provision of anti-aircraft “stinger” missles to the Mujahideen, the loosely aligned local opposition to Moscow rule. Amongst their numbers were a group of men from different states around the world who called themselves Al Qaeda.
Once the Soviets were defeated, these “defenders of the Islamic faith” then turned their attentions and enmity towards what they saw as the growing global reach of the world’s other self-appointed “superpower”.
Back in Afghanistan, as interviewees damningly recount, America simply left, creating a power vacuum that immediately led to a civil war and the rise of a group of religious fundamentalists called the Taliban. While they initially did the country a service by eliminating the various divisive warlords, their policies “trampled on women’s rights and removed most modern pleasures”.
With the episode’s finale detailing the series of terrorist plots that took place on American soil and around their interests in the 1990s (some foiled, some not), Turning Point certainly is a riveting, informative and powerful watch that offers plenty of food for thought.
Subsequent instalments focus on the other two planes involved in the 9/11 attacks, the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and events right up until the last few weeks.
It’s insightful, enlightening and compelling documentary making that not only remembers a dark moment in human history, but also addresses the impact and legacy of the action taken in response.