The political world today is in a complete mess. With a crazy and unpredictable dictator in North Korea, the U.K. going through Brexit, Putin in Russia having his fingers in many pies, and that clown in the White House in the United States even a fairly incompetent politician like Justin Trudeau looks pretty good in comparison. I am surprised that more politically based films have not come out as a result. Seems like we are still preoccupied with nasties like zombies and other apocalyptic tales rather than the horrors that are going on right here and now.
Shock and Awe, directed by Meathead or Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally, Stand By Me), tackles the subject of George Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. Bringing to light that the administration just wanted to go after someone after the tragedy of 9/11 and Saddam Hussein and his never found weapons of mass destruction became their target.
The entire population of the United States and much of the world was shocked after the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001. While others were grieving or searching for their loved ones, journalists were trying to get the story behind it all.
At the Knight Ridder offices in Washington, led by John Walcott (Rob Reiner – from television’s All in the Family), two journalists, Jonathan Landry (Woody Harrelson – Natural Born Killers, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Warren Strobel (James Marsden – X-Men, Robot & Frank) dig to get the real story. When their sources, which include members of the Bush administration, confirm that the U.S. believes Saddam Hussein is behind the attacks, they begin to wonder if their is more to the story than meets the eye.
More meaning that they are in a panic to be seen as seeking justice for 9/11 so they have just jumped on the first possibility. They use this as justification to launch an attack on Iraq under the guise of looking for the weapons of mass destruction they claim that Saddam Hussein has.
An insight into journalism. What it truly means to get a story. How it is unglamourous and involves long hours. And in today’s world puts the journalist in danger. The truth is a powerful weapon and not everyone wants it seeing the light of day. Journalism and journalist have come under attack of late so it is a film like this (whether it is well done or not) that demonstrates the importance of the media and the role they play within society. They are the people, without any glaring biases, who are supposed to get us the real truth. We have to believe in them or where will a large part of the people’s checks and balances be?
The whole Iraq War (and the 4,500 dead American soldiers and the over 400,000 dead Iraqis) is called into question. At least, for those who did not question its validity before Shock and Awe. It is held up as a lesson and warning for us. A lesson about trusting what the government says to you and how much of the truth they actually allow the people to know. How most (or even all) new services got the story wrong in this instance. Only Landry and Strobel got to the truth. And they were largely ignored.
As for the film, it is a little heavy handed in its delivery. Really hammering home the point over and over again. Intentions behind the film are good while the execution is a little lumbering. Most will not find what it reveals especially shocking. It is pretty much just trying to hammer home what we already believe.
The dangers of the government controlling the media (are you listening??). Proof is here that “fake news” does exist. Will be hard for those watching the film not to bring their political views to it allowing them to cloud assessment of it.