Cover Ups and War Coverage
correspondents have gathered to cover the mounting activities and having lost a sister to terrorist activities in 9/11 she has a few issues which cloud her thinking. Long time reporter Ben Dansmore (Jeff Goldblum) is much more level headed and having covered countless wars and terrorist actions is use to the danger they encounter daily, something which Nora isn't, cowering at every bang as they end up working together to get the best stories ahead of others. But things take a strange turn when first a refugee camp is taken out by American firepower and not unintentionally, then Ben's blunt articles not only stir things up but lead to a much bigger and more dangerous story.
I wonder how many pilots for TV shows lie in the studio store rooms gathering dust, ideas which got canned even before they aired due to a lack of faith by the bosses. Thankfully sometimes one of these canned pilots gets reworked and turned in to a TV movie which is what has happened with "War Stories" as this was originally a failed pilot for a TV series which explains two things; the surprisingly recognizable cast for a TV movie and a styling which has that free flowing camera work which steadily switches between the characters. And it sort of works with good performances bolstering what could have ended up a locked off movie only of interest to those in to conspiracy movies.
Yes I did say conspiracy movies although that is just a loose term because what we have going on in "War Stories" is a simple case of journalists uncovering a much bigger story as they cover a war with one revelation leading to another. As such what we get is the wiping out of a refugee camp by Americans which seems accidental but the discovery of militants near the camp in photos leads to it being not only intentional but a brutal act by the Americans. And this leads on to something else which yes does make it a little convoluted but then that word seems to go well with the word conspiracy. What is interesting from this is the portrayal of the military and it may be why the series got canned in fear that this would upset too many people.
Now remembering this was originally intended as a TV series and we have the central characters of Nora the novice and the more seasoned Ben. Now Jeff Goldblum brings that wit, wisdom and cynicism to his character in that intelligent way which is Goldblum's trademark which has the knock on effect of making him sexy at the same time. And then there is Lake Bell who brings the right mix of go getter and inexperience to Nora which is fine although she does end up on the wrong end of some bad writing with some jokey lines which end up uncomfortably corny. But Goldblum and Bell work well together to deliver that man woman odd couple which of course has that bit of will they won't they going on.
What this all boils down to is that "War Stories" as a TV movie is entertaining although I don't think it had the legs to work as a TV series like it was originally intended. Most of why it works is down to the cast but the styling, which is typical of a TV series, helps it no end to keep you involved rather than put off which can often happen with TV movies.