Writer: Joey Hartstone (Screenplay)
Starring: Woody Harrelson, James Marsden, Rob Reiner, Tommy Lee Jones, Jessica Biel, Milla Jovovich, Richard Schiff, Luke Tennie
Plot: A group of journalists covering former President George W. Bush’s planned invasion of Iraq in 2003 are skeptical of the President’s claim that Saddam Hussein has “weapons of mass destruction.”
Tagline – The Truth Matters
Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Slow Moving Thriller
Story: Shock and Awe starts in the aftermath of 9/11, journalists Jonathan Landay (Harrelson), Warren Strobel (Marsden) and John Walcott (Reiner) are looking to have the story about who was really behind the attack, being surprised that Iraq has become the main location for a connection.
As the story builds the pair start looking for comments which will hint the truth, as they looks to expose the reality of the future war with Iraq before it is too late and innocent American soldiers will become victims of a conflict they don’t need to be involved in.
Thoughts on Shock and Awe
Characters – Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel are the two head writers, they have sources in government and will only look to bring the truth to their readers, they are loyal to their contacts and will wait before publishing any stories. John Walcott is their boss, he will expect the stories that will bring the truth forward, he does want to stay ahead of rivals, but doesn’t want to make up stories which could bring the writers under flack. Joe Galloway is a Bronze Star winning former soldier who has written for years, he brings a fresh set of sources to the paper, as they look to get the truth.
Performances – We do have an excellent cast, where Woody Harrelson and James Marsden do work well together, Rob Reiner is strong too, while Tommy Lee Jones, does seem slightly wasted with the importance of his character.
Story – The story follows four journalists who looks to expose the truth on the war in Iraq before America went to war, only their sources won’t speak out and the pressure from other papers looking to publish stories which would endorse a war. We do have an interesting story, one that should have been pushed through harder, only it gets to pair needing to hold back, it shows how the government used a national tragedy to endorse a war which will be remembered as an important piece of history. Where this story isn’t the most interesting is following the early relationship between Warren and his new girlfriend Lisa, it is part of the story we don’t need to see and fills like filler. Nothing through this film feels as intense as it should be, when it comes to dealing with the truth, which other films like ‘Spotlight’ covered with ease.
Biopic – This is looking at the time when the journalists were trying to put together a story which could bring the system down, they had everything they needed, only they couldn’t push home the story.
Settings – The film uses the settings to show where the journalist work and how they were connecting with sources, only we do spend too much time with the personal life, distracting from the bigger story.
Scene of the Movie – Learning defeat.
Final Thoughts – This is a film that is trying to tell an important story, only it gets bogged down in parts it doesn’t need to be covering.
Overall: Journalism 101.