Movies about journalists going against the grain are some of my favorites. Their bravery and willingness to risk everything in order for us, the people, to get the proper information is beyond admirable. And while Spotlight is probably the most famous example I would also add two more movies to that list. Kill The Messenger and Target Number One are both gripping and true stories about these issues. Now, you should know that Shock and Awe feels like a light version of all of those movies. With a running time of just eighty minutes and a quite breezy atmosphere, it’s exceedingly easy to watch.
We will be following journalists working for Knight Ridder, a news company led by charismatic John Walcott. They’re trying to get to the bottom of the breaking story about the invasion of Iraq. And what happens next is a surreal sequence of events showing just how amoral and horrific people can be. If you want to know more about this story you can read this Wiki article: Knight Ridder § Iraq War. I’ve never heard of this news company before this but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for them in the future.
Moving on, Shock and Awe is directed by veteran Rob Reiner who assembled quite a team for this movie. We’ve got Woody Harrelson, James Marsden, Tommy Lee Jones, Jessica Biel, and Milla Jovovich. Milla added an additional and much-needed sense of authenticity to the story since she was personally aware of the breakup of Yugoslavia and the horrific war that followed that event. All wars are incredibly stupid and I really cannot see any justification for them after WWII. However, I don’t want to bother you too much with that.
In the aftermath of 9/11, a couple of journalists and their boss are trying to figure out how the government is going to react. They have their sources and it would appear that something big is going to go down. They just don’t know what. Soon, small tidbits of information start to trickle but they appear too wild to be true. It seems that our journalists have an exceedingly difficult task ahead of them.
Shock and Awe draw parallels between the Vietnam war and the Iraq war and for a good reason too. Both of them were completely avoidable and in retrospect did incredibly more harm than good. Well, the military-industrial complex and its lobbyists were the only ones to profit from this. The movie also features journalist Joe Galloway played by Tommy Lee Jones who reported on the Vietnam war. Joe and his close friend Lieutenant General Hal Moore wrote a book about one of the first major battles of that war.
And that book was turned into a movie We Were Soldiers, an excellent story about the brutality and hopelessness of war. Finally, I know that this is a divisive issue although I do not know why so I would like for you to follow the facts and not propaganda. And to draw conclusions for yourself. Sure, Shock and Awe is a bit flat and clumsy but the cast and surreal nature of the true events make up for that. If you’re looking for something exploring so-called manufacture of consent, check out Wag The Dog.
Director: Rob Reiner
Writer: Joey Hartstone
Cast: Woody Harrelson, James Marsden, Rob Reiner, Tommy Lee Jones, Jessica Biel, Milla Jovovich
Fun Facts: John Walcott said the the script for the movie was incredibly accurate. He even went so far as to saying it’s “word-for-word” accurate.