It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
So, why did we invade Grenada? A terrorist bomb killed all those Marines in Beirut, the White House was taking flak, and suddenly our Marines were landing on a Caribbean island few people had heard of, everybody was tying yellow ribbons 'round old oak trees, and Clint Eastwood was making the movie. The Grenadan invasion, I have read, produced more decorations than combatants. By the time it was over, Ronald Reagan's presidency had proven the republic could still flex its muscle--we could take out a Caribbean Marxist regime at will, Cuba notwithstanding.
Barry Levinson's "Wag the Dog" cites Grenada as an example of how easy it is to whip up patriotic frenzy, and how dubious the motives sometimes are. The movie is a satire that contains just enough realistic ballast to be teasingly plausible; like "Dr. Strangelove," it makes you laugh, and then it makes you wonder. Just today, I read a Strangelovian article revealing that some of Russian's nuclear missiles, still aimed at the United States, have gone unattended because their guards were denied bonus rations of 4 pounds of sausage a month. It is getting harder and harder for satire to stay ahead of reality.
In the movie, a U.S. president is accused of luring an underage "Firefly Girl" into an anteroom of the Oval Office, and there presenting her with opportunities no Firefly Girl should anticipate from her commander in chief. A presidential election is weeks away, the opposition candidate starts using "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" in his TV ads, and White House aide Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) leads a spin doctor named Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro) into bunkers far beneath the White House for an emergency session.
Brean, a Mr. Fixit who has masterminded a lot of shady scenarios, has a motto: "To change the story, change the lead." To distract the press from the Firefly Girl scandal, he advises extending a presidential trip to Asia, while issuing official denials that the new B-3 bomber is being activated ahead of schedule. "But there is no B-3 bomber," he's told.