Rob Reiner’s SHOCK AND AWE Trailer Neither Shocks Nor Awes

Did you know that the Bush Administration lied about WMDs?

Rob Reiner’s late directorial career is one of the sadder stories in Hollywood. The guy will keep working forever on the back of a string of legitimate stone-cold classics (This Is Spinal Tap, Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, A Few Good Men), but his output since the mid-’90s has been either forgettable or risible.

Shock and Awe, a journalism thriller about the false pretenses behind the 2003 invasion of Iraq, looks like a continuation of the anti-Reinerssance.

Despite its obvious zeal for truth, this trailer honestly exhibits the exact tone of Christian-produced films arguing for the incorrectness of evolution. It’s got the same closeup-heavy camerawork and tired directing, the same trailer-friendly one-liners, the same sense that it’s both preaching to the converted and laying it on thick for the heathens in the room. Hell, even Reiner casting himself as the paper’s editor has the air of Kirk Cameron presiding over things. 

It’s particularly sad, because boy is this movie squandering some talent. Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, James Marsden, Jessica Biel, Milla Jovovich, Richard Schiff for that West Wing legitimacy - they’re all certainly capable of strong performances. Even Reiner can still pull out the stops when given the right material and guidance, as seen in The Wolf of Wall Street.

None of that is the biggest issue facing Shock and Awe, though. This movie is coming out fifteen years after the fact: long enough ago that nearly everyone (even Republicans) accepts the Bush administration lied, but short enough that nearly everyone still remembers it all pretty clearly. Who wants to see this movie in 2018, when we’ve got a president considerably worse than George W. Bush? If anything, Shock And Awe's regurgitation of a story we already know is gonna feel like grim nostalgia.