Always seeking to strike while the iron is hot, Warner Bros. is moving forward with Blackwater – a dramatic feature based on the rise of the privatixed military organixation Blackwater USA/Worldwide/BSC, founded by former US Navy SEAL, Erik Prince in 1997. The security firm is currently receiving a lot of news coverage, due to the trial of four of its former operatives, accused of the killing of Iraqi civilians in 2007. Producer Jon Peters has set Australian filmmaker Kieran Darcy-Smith (Wish You Were Here) to direct the film.
As the first feature script from Gideon Yago (The Newsroom), the film looks set to tackle a subject that has proved to be highly controversial for many years – namely, the existence and use of what is essentially a private military force. Founder Erik Prince has stated that it was the Yugoslav conflicts of the early 1990s that led him to conclude there was a need for private training facilities for special military operations, and that it was the Rwandan genocide that prompted him to create Blackwater specifically. In its first 13 years of operation, Blackwater received over $2 billion in ‘government security contracts,’ made up of federal, military and classified CIA contracts.
It is the nature of the organization, its use by the US government, and concerns about alleged private ties to politically influential figures that has caused much controversy – something that was exacerbated by the alleged 2007 incident in Baghdad. The company has been indirectly satirized many times on film – most notably, perhaps, in John Cusack’s War Inc, which sought to highlight the dangers of treating war and conflict as a commercial opportunity. Gideon Yago’s Blackwater script is fact-based, however, and as such will potentially give us the first real cinematic telling of the rise of this shadowy corporation.
It is not yet clear which areas of the organization’s history Blackwater will encompass. The company, as founded by Erik Prince, no longer exists. Having changed the company name to Xe Services LLC in 2009, Prince then resigned, leaving the way clear for a group of private investors to purchase and completely restructure the outfit in 2010. Formerly Blackwater, the private security firm is now known as Academi, and Prince has no affiliation to it whatsoever.
While Kieran Darcy-Smith is now attached to direct, it would seem that the script is not yet finished – which means it may be a while before we hear any further details of what Blackwater will entail. It will be interesting to note – given that the trial of Blackwater operatives is now underway – whether these current events will be included, along with the outcome. If that is indeed the plan, the wait may be even longer. As ever, We Got This Covered will keep its ear to the ground.