Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Murderous Reign of Saddam Hussein

"OK"

Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Murderous Reign of Saddam Hussein Review


No matter how you feel about Michael Moore, you can't deny his influence. And Central California real estate broker Brad Maaske, in his filmmaking debut, isn't afraid to admit that Moore inspired him to get into an editing room and "find out the truth" about Saddam Hussein and the U.S. war in Iraq.

The resulting production is infuriating, partly by design, partly by missteps. Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Murderous Reign of Saddam Hussein makes a powerful case against the world's negligence in failing to confront a tyrant who committed genocide in his own country. But the second half of WMD is a confused mess, delving into 9/11 and the reasons behind America's decision to take Hussein out.

Maaske admits his 96-minute documentary is a response to Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, but even from the other end of the political spectrum, this op-ed-style movie bears Moore's greasy fingerprints. Maaske borrows liberally from the Moore formula, jumping from historical reels, to on-location footage, to "expert" interviews, to news media archives, to melodramatic events, to man-on-the-street perspectives designed to make those with opposing viewpoints look ignorant, all in service to an uneven polemic.

Following a cursory history of Saddam's thuggish rise to power, the heart of WMD importantly chronicles his brutal tyranny over the Iraqi people, especially the well-documented genocide against the Kurds. While missing on some major points (like characterizing both Shiites and Sunnis as "Arabs" united against the Kurds), the staggering footage of mass graves and the testimony of survivors of torture, massacres, and chemical weapon attacks exemplify the Baathist disregard for innocent life. The interviewed Iraqis are all highly credible, and their pain is devastating.

But it's after returning to the homeland that the movie falters. The point of the movie isn't just to give Saddam his due, but to rationalize the American (and to a far lesser extent English, Australian, Italian, and let's-not-forget Polish) effort to remove him with force.

To do this, WMD transforms rather suddenly into a softer version of Fox "News." You'll be forgiven for a feeling of whiplash when 45 minutes of survivor footage transitions to a 15-minute retrospective on the attacks of 9/11, a "day that would forever change how America views her enemies." In his narration, Maaske frequently parrots phrases from the 2004 Republican National Convention, such as calling 9/11 an "unprecedented terrorist attack against America's freedom" (a simplistic characterization that's ignorant of Osama bin Laden's and Al Qaeda's motives and demands).

Before you know it, Maaske is praising the "Bush Doctrine" by jumbling up the 9/11 hijackers, the Taliban, Osama, Saddam, and even the post-war Iraqi insurgents who beheaded Nick Berg. Unless you're the type of person who has a hard time distinguishing Muslims, Arabs, and terrorists, you won't find this terribly convincing, particularly because it's so far removed from the details of Saddam's atrocities against Iraqis. (Once again, speeches from the 2004 Republican National Convention are featured as source material.)

The American personalities in WMD consist principally of conservative internet muckraker Evan Coyle Maloney, a scholar from the right-leaning Hoover Institute, and a professor from Biola University. (I hadn't heard of Biola either until I went to its website and read that it's "a theologically conservative, Protestant university that provides biblically centered education.") Maloney's presence is especially grating, since it primarily features useless, Moore-esque stunts, such as quizzing the craziest anti-war protestors he could find (including San Francisco schizophrenic Frank "12 Galaxies" Chu) and making them look like chumps.

Maaske himself, after introducing himself early in the movie, mostly stays out of the way, a fortunate decision since his narration is reminiscent of carpet store ads on local cable. But in spite of WMD devolving into a jingoistic mess in the second half, you gotta hand it to Maaske: He hocked everything he owned to make something he really cared about. And isn't that the real American dream?

Aka WMD: Weapon of Mass Destruction.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Advertisement
Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.