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less son out of trouble on more than a few occasions. The palpable conflict between father and son conveys areas of Bush Junior’s lazy decision-making process and overzealous attitude toward policy that Toby Jones’ Karl Rove seizes control of to pave the way for their entwined careers.
Iraq plays a significant role late in the film as a gritty thematic hook that brings Bush full circle to flaunting his powers as president in relation to his father’s dubious accomplishments during the Gulf War. To the film’s credit, it anchors W’s mismanaged war on Iraq to meetings with his snarky cabinet who bully Secretary of State Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright) into forfeiting his reservations about the validity of preemptive military action based on shaky intelligence.
The group scenes are arresting for their candid banter but are played with only a modicum of mouth-foaming from Richard Dreyfuss’ restrained take on Dick Cheney and Scott Glenn’s similarly guarded version of the hawkish Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It’s here that we witness the telltale body language of predator politicians hatching plans that we know will spiral out of control.
W. is a fast-moving, topical film whose timing predates the end of an unlikely political career. It represents a cinematic kicking to the curb of a set of faulty ideologies rooted in a childish worldview and put forth by a group that relentlessly pursued a perfect storm of destruction. As a brief overview of the personal and political experiences of a man whose actions will impact America for generations to come, W. is a drop in the bucket. But it’s at least a drop that can be tasted and spit out. Grade: B