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

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

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.