Finally a movie review that takes on Oliver Stone's "W." on its cinematic merits or rather the lack thereof.
Far from being "illustrated journalism" as Time's Richard Corliss lamented or "sunny and sympathetic" history as Newsweek's Alan Brinkley argued, it's simply an "old-fashioned train wreck," concluded Baltimore Sun Michael Sragow in his October 16 review.
The film critic -- who gave the film just one and a half stars -- cracked that the script sounded like recycled Maureen Dowd cartoons and scoffed at the "uneven pleasure" of seeing "first-rate" actors portraying political figures they "don't respect" (emphases mine):
Its shortcomings are remarkably similar to those of its major characters. Near the beginning, Donald Rumsfeld ( Scott Glenn) proclaims that he doesn't do "nuance." Neither, alas, does Stone.
Stanley Weiser's script is like a bunch of Maureen Dowd's four-year-old "Oedipus Bush" columns stitched together.
In the end, though, all W. offers is the uneven pleasure of first-rate actors impersonating people they don't respect. Dreyfuss, so shrewd and compelling as Alexander Haig in The Day Reagan Was Shot, sets the pitch for this ensemble by playing Cheney with hunched shoulders and loathsome certitude; if Bush is the decider, Cheney is the dominator. Thandie Newton plays Condoleezza Rice as a marionette without strings, complete with a voice so rickety it seems to emanate from a ventriloquist somewhere behind her. She's either the worst impersonator or the one who best sums up Stone's view of the Bush inner circle as hollow men - and women. Elizabeth Banks brings a whiff of down-home sensuality to Laura, but like Jeffrey Wright's sage yet gutless Colin Powell, she can't square the independent character we meet at the beginning with the loyalist she becomes at the end.