Rated: R for language including some sexual references. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: July 13, 2018 Released by: Vertical Entertainment
Shock and Awe recounts the period leading to Operation Iraqi Freedom in a way that should emphasize what the first amendment entails, but mostly churns instead of gestating with a taut vibrancy. A short theatrical run is destined in light of yesterday's news after being on DirecTV for a month.
Looking back at an unfortunate period it was (a military read) Knight Ridder newspaper reporters like Jonathan Landay (Woody Harrelson, star of LBJ) and Warren Strobel (James Marsden of Hairspray who discovered how the George W. Bush administration initiated conflict because of what leader Sadaam Hussein was amassing.
Apparently, Reiner's studied maneuvering with LBJ scribe Joey Hartstone puts the viability of the fourth estate at risk, as well as the reputations of the reporters aiming for the 'truth' while coming under much scrutiny from their peers. Other high-profiled media outlets like the 'New York Times' went with the prevaricating premise only to later apologize.
Also, veteran war correspondent Joe Galloway (a neglected Tommy Lee Jones) and bureau editor John Walcott (Reiner, actually in for a prescient Alec Baldwin just days before shooting commenced) went all in after learning of what wasn't supposed to surface (not likely in an advance age of social media and cyber-security with foreign powers active in political affairs).
The main focus is on the reporters as the personal lives of married Landay and divorced Strobel with a romantic neighborly interest (Jessica Biel) for the latter providing exposition. And, Landay's Eastern-European conspiracy theorist comely missus (Milla Jovavich) worried about how his extra effort will impact their family. As this plays out on surface terms, Reiner also frames the activity around a war victim, Adam (Luke Tennie), offering his hardscrabble recollection of what in essence was a fabrication.
For a presidential figure being protested and portrayed as a crybaby Shock and Awe doesn't manage to make the "enemy of the people" as important as the filmmakers intend to be. Just wading through 'fake news' where a haunting, human touch is nowhere to be found.
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