Xanadu and Outfoxed director Robert Greenwald's muckraking documentary Uncovered opens with a battery of talking heads laying out their credentials, most of which involve decades of service in government fields linked to the war on terror and the most recent Iraq war. That doesn't make for riveting cinema, but it does help dispel lingering notions of partisan bias or ideological axes to grind. It also establishes the dry tone of the film, which is so doggedly conventional and uncinematic that the whole fandango could be transferred to NPR without losing much in the process. Where Fahrenheit 9/11 turned the Iraq war into heartstrings-tugging tragi-comedy heavy on emotional appeals, Uncovered takes the opposite approach by letting the facts speak for themselves until they build organically into a damning case against the war.
Greenwald's film argues lucidly and persuasively that the Bush administration distorted and manipulated intelligence information until it fit into a pre-ordained theory that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and ties to Osama bin Laden, in spite of the leaders' obvious religious and philosophical differences. To help build their case, Bush and company relied on self-interested parties like Ahmed Chalabi, who would have said anything if he could secure a fat paycheck and a cushy job in post-Saddam Iraq by doing so. Expert after expert lays out how the administration misread the political climate of Iraq, quixotically assuring the American public that the country's reconstruction would somehow pay for itself.
Uncovered could easily come off as dull or strident, but the administration's arrogance and disregard for the safeguards and transparency necessary for democracy give the documentary an outraged charge that overshadows its staid execution. The film ends up preaching to the choir, merely restating what the antiwar contingent has been saying all along, but it serves an important purpose for those seeking history's vindication.