With the title "Shock and Awe" (yes, I know this was the name given to the Iraq war) I expected a lot more content and far better execution (let's make the comparison to what happened in Iraq: it started with a bang and left America hanging for 17 years---though the film was much shorter, thank God! When the movie was over, I thought..."but wait...that's it? " There were many more facts that surrounded the issue of whether or not Suddam Hussein had WMD's than were addressed in the movie.
The scripting and characterization was poor, to say the least. Occasionally, a character would make a claim about the Bush Administration without qualifying it. I watched the film to get more facts about the truth, once there was an investigation about why Bush believed Saddam had WMD's. No additional facts were provided.
WORSE, I had the impression early on that Rob Reiner did this movie as therapy for himself, which tended to show through more than a story he wanted to tell. He is known to have strong feelings about the Iraq war and other political issues, and casting himself as John Walcott didn't give him the opportunity to do so. In one scene, he referred to the Bush Administration as "d**kweeds. Really?? A few scenes were juvenile in the sense of name calling without providing the viewer an adequate background for the emotion. He would have done well to cast an actor (Tom Wilkinson would have been perfect) and remain behind the camera.
There were other issues, like the pointless characterization of the wife of Jonathan Landay as a paranoid women (played by Milo Jovovich) that nagged her husband about putting his family at risk while covering this story, since "they are listening!" Further, she appeared in three scenes that were all staged in the couple's bedroom, and all we could learn of her is that she is originally from a communist country and is a very paranoid woman! Could Reiner have shown us WHY he bothered casting this role if he had no plans of giving her depth? This added nothing to the film, and instead was a distraction.
Another scene that REALLY bothered me is when Warren Stroebel (played by James Marsden) gets into a poolside debate with his girlfriend's father due to his lack of patriotism in criticizing the Bush Administration over the Iraq War. When Warren has had enough, he pauses and says, "I'm going to get a beer..." because he couldn't think of what to say next.
The film is weak; as I stated in my headline, it lacked content and never built up the energy that helps instill interest from viewers. I still gave it three stars due to decent acting from Harrelson and Marsden. There's only so much you can do with what they were given.