One of the most notable and remembered hurricane disasters of the last few years (although it certainly isn't the only one) was Hurricane Katrina. It has been attributed as one of the worst hurricanes the U.S. has ever experienced, with a death toll of almost 2,000 (with over 700 missing) and a cost in the tens of billions of dollars. A notable hero of the disaster was John Keller, an ex-Marine who kept safe hundreds of people during a five day ordeal.
With this in mind, Will Smith and Overbrook Entertainment (which he is a co-owner of) have acquired the rights to make a biopic about Keller. We only know that the rights have been acquired, but there's no word yet on whether it will be about his entire life or just the bravery and heroism he displayed in 2005 during the chaos.
Something tells me, for dramatic effect's sake, it will just be the latter, with maybe a little back story thrown in at the beginning...
Although no casting news has come out yet about the John Lee Hancock-directed movie (The Alamo, The Rookie), it is expected by that Smith will end up portraying Keller. Not only does this make sense with Smith being one of the few truly bankable movie star in the business, as well as the fact he's producing it, but Smith also clearly resembles Keller (see left).
Much like any film based on the events of 9/11, making a film that has anything to do with Hurricane Katrina needs to be treated sensitively. I am not one of those people who think that no movies should be made about tragic real life events like this - they should, because I think it's important to get those kinds of stories out there. However, I am not in favor of them making it just to plainly capitalize on the magnitude and impact of the event, either by playing up the fact that it's based on a real tragic event or making it overly politicized.
With the 9/11 attacks, they made countless documentaries and a couple of feature films, the latter taking the form of World Trade Center and United 93. Both were incredible stories that needed to be told, but with the latter in particular they did a brilliant job with it that made for one hell of a harrowing experience (I didn't think they made a particularly good movie with World Trade Center, though).
I think with Keller's heroic story, they can follow in United 93's footsteps. As long as they don't make it too sappy, politicized or go about things with a disregard for sensitivity to the tragic event that occurred, it should make for compelling and dramatic viewing.
What do you think of them making a movie about the Hurricane Katrina hero John Keller? Do you think Smith should play the lead and produce?
Sources: Empire, Nola