W. (15)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner23/10/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 129 mins

An enjoyable, weirdly jaunty biopic with terrific performances, but the script doesn't go far enough and Stone refuses to stick the knife in.

What's it all about?
Oliver Stone takes on his third President with W., a biopic of soon-to-be-ex- President George W. (pronounced dubya) Bush. Using a complex structure of flashbacks, the film takes Bush (Josh Brolin) from his initiation into a Yale frat house, through the hard-partying early years, all the way to his first term as president, though it stops short of the run-up to his 2004 election and pointedly avoids any scenes from 9/11.

Along the way, a portrait emerges of a man struggling to escape the shadow of his father, George Bush Sr (James Cromwell). We also see him finding God and surrounding himself with capable figures he feels he can trust, such as loving wife, Laura (Elizabeth Banks), and Cabinet members Karl Rove (Toby Jones), Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss), Donald Rumsfeld (Scott Glenn), Condoleezza Rice (Thandie Newton) and Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright).

The Good
If they gave Oscars for casting, W. would win hands-down - there are so many terrific performances here that it wouldn't be surprising to see the entire Best Supporting Actor category next year made up of W. cast members. However, the stand-outs are Brolin (surely a shoo-in for a Best Actor nomination), Cromwell (brilliant as always) and Dreyfuss, who's chillingly good as Dick "Vice" Cheney, particularly in the scene where he outlines "interrogation techniques". The tone of the film is extremely offbeat in places, aided by a bizarre soundtrack that includes songs such as The Theme from Robin Hood.

The Bad
The main problem is that, since this is an Oliver Stone film, you're expecting at least a couple of killer punches and the film flat out refuses to deliver them. Essentially, it's not hard to imagine Bush himself enjoying W., even if it doesn't let him entirely off the hook.

Worth seeing?
This is an enjoyable biopic with terrific performances, though you can't help wishing Stone had gone in for the kill.

Film Trailer

W. (15)
W. has been reviewed by 1 users
image
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

image
02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

image
03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

image
04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

image
05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 13/12/2017 09:00

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films