Shock and Awe (2018)


So many unknown knowns.

Jonathan Landay (Woody Harrelson) and Warren Strobel (James Marsden) were a pair of journalists who were there working the desks right as soon as 9/11 happened. Immediately after that, they watched the whole world spin into absolute and total chaos, where threats were made, wars were planned, and weapons of mass destruction were found. Or were they? See, Landay and Strobel never quite believed the whole “weapons of mass destruction” excuse for wanting to go to war with Iran, so instead of simply buying into the propaganda that literally every other journalism outlet was, they decided to go their own way and look into the facts, or better yet, what wasn’t there. What they find out is that there aren’t any weapons of mass destruction, however, proving that is a lot harder than just saying it, especially when there’s already a paranoid and mass-hysteria of terrorism riding throughout the country.

“Grrr.”

Even though I am for one, a journalist, Shock and Awe still feels like a lame-attempt at trying to tell this true story and do it all justice. Unlike two superior movies concerning journalism and the breaking of very important stories (All the President’s Men, Spotlight), Shock and Awe just never fully takes off, story-wise, as well as pace-wise. It mostly sits there, ranting, raving, and most of all, preaching to the choir that may already be on the side of the film, but also want something more than to just be told their truth.

They want a little something more like, I don’t know, thrills, chills, hell, even excitement!

And Shock and Awe doesn’t have much of that.

Which is strange because Rob Reiner, as a director, is pretty solid when he’s got good material to work with. Sure, he’s not the most serious and most challenging director put on this planet, but he knows how to keep things moving and interesting, even when it seems like he himself isn’t all that interested in the material. In a weird fact, watching Rob Reiner act here was more entertaining than his direction, which can sometimes feel stodgy, plain and simply put, boring.

Sorry, peeps. We don’t have any excuses.

And that’s pretty much how the rest of Shock and Awe is: Simple, plain, and yep, a bit of a bore. There is no doubt that this story deserves to be told to the highest-bidder and shouted from the highest mountain, but it’s also one that may deserve a better movie? Even these two journalists at the center who broke the ground, they don’t really come-off as anybody compelling to have a whole movie about – Harrelson is charming and Marsden is handsome – but everyone else who shows up, does what they can, tries their best, and continues to move on with their lives. A story like this should have more of an effect, more of a impact, and should also be a hell of a lot longer than 84-minutes. After all, a movie about why one country went to war with another country, the false platforms, the accusations, and the general lies that the general public were being sold, seems like it should be more, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not.

Consensus: Shock and Awe is a perfectly adequate movie about two important journalists doing great work, yet, the movie itself isn’t as great, nor does it ever feel important.

5 / 10

Solving national crisis’, while looking absolutely stunning!

Photos Courtesy of: Vertical Entertainment

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