Rating: 2.5 stars
The trailers and poster art for Oliver Stone’s W. make it seem like a scathing work of satire but in reality, it’s a fairly standard biopic, with a healthy dose of Freudian speculation about the relationship between the elder Bush and his wayward son. Sure, there are some funny moments—a guy like Dubya would have to yield a few chuckles—but it’s mostly benign and dare I say . . . sympathetic? (This from the guy who gave us Natural Born Killers and JFK?)
Of course, the film is already controversial—and unprecedented. While there have been many presidential biopics—Stone has done one of his own (1995’s Nixon)—this is the first time one has been filmed while the president was still in office. In that sense, W. works best as a novelty film—and Stone seems to know it.
Why else, then, would he start the film with a “name that cabinet member” tableaux, as George W. Bush (Josh Brolin) and his advisers sit around the Oval Office coming up with the phrase Axis of Evil? You spend the first few minutes trying to figure out who’s...