Oliver Stone’s W., which is as much edited as it is directed, working from a script by Stone buddy Stanley Weiser, has a patchwork chronology that takes as its central pattern the run-up to the Iraq War and ensuing search for the missing weapons of mass destruction, while pushing two theses regarding the nature of its eponymous antihero: One, that the younger Bush (played crudely by Josh Brolin) became president to take revenge on the elder, and two, that Dubya actually has a powerful insight into American politics. Cable news won’t be able to resist the movie’s most outrageous scenes, and such blatant Bush bludgeoning should compel a few Republican pols and right-wing pundits to rise to their maligned leader’s defense. Many more people will see W.’s choice moments as de facto campaign ads on TV or YouTube than will ever sit through the movie. W. may be opening at a good time but it doesn’t exactly promise one. Stone omits the stolen 2000 election, stops short of the 2004 campaign, and spares us the second term, but this is still a painful movie to endure. I blame history more than Stone for that—it’s a shame that when the filmmaker contemplated the nature of imperial hubris four years ago, the gods decreed he should unleash Alexander rather than this. Back then, W. might actually have made a difference.
Jan. 1-3, 2, 4:30, 7 & 9:40 p.m.; Fri., Jan. 2, 7 & 9:40 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 3, 2, 4:30, 7 & 9:40 p.m., 2009

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