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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

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.