Oliver Stone’s “W.”, ths story of George W. Bush’s life and time in the White House, is far more workmanlike than his other movies. It’s not as memorable as “JFK” or “Nixon”, but I suspect that is as much a product of the times it was made in as much as the movie itself, especially as it was released in 2008 when Bush was still president.
It was a controversial film at the time, although I personally found it to be nowhere near as anti-Bush as some either said or expected it to be. The central premise is not of Bush as an evil or stupid man, but as a plain man out of his depth who nevertheless, through sheer force of will, pulled himself out from under his father’s enormous shadow and becomes an incredibly successful politician.
Josh Brolin gets the Bush swagger down to a tee, although he doesn’t quite manage to pull off Bush’s awkwardness in interviews, playing him slightly dopier than is deserved. Having said that, he does manage to convey the struggle Bush has with communicating his vision, and there is one, whether one likes it or not. Thandie Newton plays Condi Rice as almost odd, and Toby Jones makes Karl Rove almost likable, but the two scene stealers for me were James Cromwell, as Bush senior, and Richard Dreyfuss who becomes Dick Cheney.
Finally, there’s a scene in the movie that fascinated me, because of its honesty. In the scene, Cheney outlines a grand plan where Iraq is just the beginning, to allow a staging post for an invasion of Iran, and US control of the world’s oil supply. He argues the point in a calm and rational way, pointing out that the world oil supply is dwindling, and their job is to secure it for the American people, and that Russia and China will be doing the same. It’s the sort of scene that will send far-left people nuts, but it was a rational analysis of the American interest.
Not Stone’s greatest movie, but worth watching.