Made for HBO, PATH TO PARADISE recounts events leading up to the February 1994 bombing of the World Trade Center, as the FBI monitored the plotting terrorists but never caught on to their plans. While it is a well-made, fast-paced thriller, it suffers from the usual problems of the genre,
particularly a superficial depiction of Muslims and the implication that the answer to terrorism is looser police procedures.
FBI Special Agent John Anticlev (Peter Gallagher) is interviewed by a review panel studying how the agency failed to prevent the bombing of the World Trade Center In 1990, Anticlev recounts, he and NYPD Detective Lou Napoli (Paul Guilfoyle) were part of a joint task force on counterterrorism for
the New York region. They investigated whether El Sayyid Nosair (Shaun Toub), accused of the assassination of Jewish extremist leader Meir Kahane, was acting alone. Nosair was a follower of blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman (Andreas Katsulas), who preaches the need for a holy war against enemies of
Islam, including the United States. Unbeknownst to Anticlev and Napoli, some of Nosair's acquaintances are planning a terrorist explosion. For this they bring in bomb specialist Ramzi Yousef (Art Malik) from the Middle East. Although they suspect something is being planned, the investigators have
nothing more than instinct to go on.
Emad Salem (Ned Eisenberg) approaches the FBI and offers to act as an informant on the activities of the Sheik. Suspicious of his ties to Egyptian intelligence, the FBI agrees to use him but cancels his services when he refuses to wear a wiretap. It's a decision they regret when Salem's
acquaintances detonate their bomb, killing 6 people (far short of their goal of toppling both towers). After the explosion, they rehire him, and he agrees to get evidence implicating the Sheik--for a fee of $1 million. With Salem's help, all of the conspirators are caught and sentenced to long
Central to PATH TO PARADISE is the cumulative irony of how often the plotters passed through police and FBI hands; every few minutes, someone observes how easy it is to be a terrorist in the United States. But while this case contains a surprising number of such coincidences, it would be no more
proper to accuse the FBI of laxity than it would to reprimand a traffic cop who saw the explosive-laden truck pass him; just because he saw it doesn't mean he should have known what it was up to. To its credit, the film leavens this with some absurdist humor and a retort from agent Anticlev
regarding the clarity of hindsight. Co-directors Leslie Libman and Larry Williams are veterans of commercials and music videos, and it shows, though PATH TO PARADISE's stylized touches juice it up without becoming self-indulgent. (Violence, profanity.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: Made for HBO, PATH TO PARADISE recounts events leading up to the February 1994 bombing of the World Trade Center, as the FBI monitored the plotting terrorists but never caught on to their plans. While it is a well-made, fast-paced thriller, it suffers from… (more)