Oscar winner Oliver Stone directs an all-star cast in this satiric retrospective of the life and political career of George W. Bush (Josh Brolin), from his troubles as a young adult through his governorship of Texas and all the way to the Oval Office. Richard Dreyfuss plays Vice President Dick Cheney, with Elizabeth Banks as First Lady Laura Bush and Thandie Newton as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Directed by Oliver Stone (World Trade Center, Any Given Sunday).
Rating: 4 out of 10
Oliver Stone is one of the most overrated directors in Hollywood. I lobbied my brother to put him on our list, but he didn’t make the cut.
“W.” came out too soon, much like the flop “World Trade Center.” Bush was still in office when this hit theaters, and no one cared then or now. Stone can’t get a budget, but actors like Brolin and Al Pacino still come out and work for him. “W.” lacked focus and realism. Stone didn’t want to totally nail Bush against the wall, which is easily done and justifiable. Instead, he wanted to show that Bush is human, and like the rest of us, makes mistakes. Stone portrayed Bush with great naivete, taking the stance that he actually was duped into believing that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction by bigger powers like Dick Cheney — played to perfection by Richard Dreyfuss, a lone golden nugget in this below average film.He also took the stance that Bush wanted to get revenge for his daddy and his cabinet wanted to finish the job he never did.
Personally, I found this to be a cartoonish apology by Stone on Bush’s behalf, taking the position that he didn’t know better, so it made everything OK. There was also the portrayal of Colin Powell by Jeffrey Wright as the voice of reason, the veteran with a conscious who tries to talk the cabinet out of going to war because of the lack of proof. Powell later admitted to fabricating the weapons of mass destruction speech he gave to the United Nations. I have a hard time believing he was the voice of reason.
In the end, the story is not very strong — it jumps from his youth to presidency numerous times and develops neither. With a watered down story and weak direction, “W.” is a clunker.