Hail to the chief! W. is about the man, the legend and in some lights the goof President George W. Bush. Oliver Stone commemorates the Bush administration with a parting gift by putting one more egg on their face.
Focusing on what drove Bush to become the 43rd president of this nation, W. features many more events in Bush’s life than the cursory glance it gives his time in office. Although set when Bush is in office, multiple flashbacks keep the film rolling on the president’s life before the 2000 election. The movie scrolls though the days from the fraternity-pledging “Junior” to Bush’s early political career.
Introducing the characters lacks any difficulty. Acting as Bush throughout his adult life, Josh Brolin does an astounding job of capturing the president’s mannerisms. The cast of the president’s cabinet (including Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney, Jeffrey Wright as General Colin Powell and Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice) also takes their roles with a measure of salt. The cabinet members succeed on striking the perfect level of acting authenticity between satire and canon.
W. is not far removed from Stone’s previous voyeurism of Nixon in his 1995 film. The Watergate Scandal in Nixon was not given much detail, making it a twin to the portrayal of the Iraq War in W. Many other disasters of Bush’s presidency are cut. The World Trade Center attack was reduced to a footnote and Katrina was not motioned at all. Even the details of the Iraq War were minimized.
The only thing the film does very well is put a visually pleasing timeline to Bush’s legacy.
This film is very innovative for being released during the Bush presidency, but historically it will just be a mediocre film. Although I still recommend the movie for its acting and the insightful ending, I caution those that are looking for many cheap laughs at Bush’s expense to look somewhere else.