Polished, informative, yet lacking in originality this by the numbers 9/11 expose should be chalked up as a wasted opportunity.
Shock and Awe is awkward to place as it possesses contentious subject matter, a stellar cast of respected actors and director with legacy, lineage and tenure yet remains neither hard hitting nor committed. More refined critics might single out the writer Joey Hartstone as culpable for this disappointingly pedestrian political film.
There are at least three films – Green Zone, Flight 93 and Spotlight – which do investigative journalism on film better than this. That movies from Paul Greengrass get mentioned twice is no coincidence, as he is both intrusive, combative and intuitive in his filmmaking which matches the subject matter perfectly. Director Rob Reiner who leads the charge as John Walcott, produces a slick film which gives us facts yet barely allows any time to connect with character. That the Twin Towers, 9/11 and those subsequent military invasions are well documented does little to help either. It remains an important subject without doubt yet the facts of collusion, political backroom foul play and accountability are old news.
Most people with half an interest at the time were either told, found out or second guessed the reasons behind America’s obsession over Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Lives were lost which is tragic and comparisons to Vietnam are alluded to yet the impact of both this film and those involved have been somewhat overshadowed by Donald Trump. In the eyes of many this man represents a bigger threat than either Bush combined, giving us the terrifying prospect of events considerably worse actually coming to pass.
There is also an overreliance on stock footage both from Fox News, CNN and C-Span which detract from this stellar cast making any real impression. For much of time the characters sound like expositional mouthpieces throwing numbers, names and key events at us like so much confetti. Jessica Biel and James Marsden engage in a pointless sub plot which sees them get romantically involved, while Tommy Lee Jones and Woody Harrelson use their screen presence rather than anything the script has to offer. Polished, informative, yet lacking in originality this by the numbers 9/11 expose should be chalked up as a wasted opportunity. Both a victim of bad timing and the current political climate, which make George Bush Junior look like Barack Obama in comparison to their current incumbent.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Written by: Joey Hartstone
Starring: Woody Harrelson, James Marsden, Rob Reiner, Jessica Biel, Milla Jovovich, Tommy Lee Jones
Released: 2018 / Genre: Action
Country: USA / IMDB
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Shock and Awe is out now on digital HD and DVD on September 10.