FILM REVIEW: ‘War on the Dnieper’

The moral: nothing is as dangerous as a dim leader convinced of his cleverness by schemers selling nostrums that promise to etch his name in the history books forever, writes Michael Brenner. 

Harris, Biden, Sullivan and Blinken in a scene from ‘War on the Dnieper’. (State Dept/Wikimedia Commons.)

By Michael Brenner

American cinema and theater have been in the doldrums. For many, the very thought of going out to see the latest dreary creation from Hollywood or Broadway is enough to send them searching Netflix for the colorized rerun of Lassie Finds A Home.

So, it is understandable that Washington – out of its deep concern for the mood of its citizenry – should go out of its way to provide us with a tension-laden, extravagant production worthy of comparison to Thirteen Days or Zero Dark Thirty.

War On The Dnieper was meant to be in that vein. A drama of heroic proportions to keep Americans, and much of Europe, trembling in dread as the Slavic dogs of war strain on their leash and the vise tightens on America, on Russia, on NATO and – of course – Ukraine.

Instead, we are offered a comic tragedy that faintly resembles Dr. Strangelove – on valium. Here’s a review of War On The Dnieper in calm decompression.

Plot: imaginative but fanciful. Dots not well connected – numerous incongruities hint at clever stratagems never revealed. Endless repetitions leaves an empty feeling.

Script: “hackneyed” and stale – lacks strong personalities. 100-word vocabulary cap leaves feeling that I’ve seen this one before – a presidential ‘debate?’

Directing: ambitious but fails to live up to excited expectations. Bloodless Action film doesn’t hack it. Stock characters stilted, monotone.

Acting: jarring combination of monotonous cue card recitation and overacting. Amateur cast. Exceptions are two key supporting players, seasoned professionals whose facial expressions hint at acute boredom: “How did I ever get roped into something this tedious and silly?”

Soon, at a theater near you – maybe.

Where is the Cast Now?

Joe Biden teams up with the Obamas as co-producer of an HBO series of historical dramas titled: When Conquer We Must. The first episode to air is “Havana”– to be followed by “Chapultepec,” “Tonkin Gulf,” “Shock & Awe” and “Rumors of War.” The second season comprises five episodes: “Tehran,” “Benghazi,” “Damascus,” “Odessa,” and “Quemoy & Matsu.”

Tony Blinken is closing in on Hillary’s record performance as Secretary of State in chalking up most flight miles with no evident effect – at least his suit is, anyway.

Jake Sullivan is deepening his anonymity as a highly placed administration source by cutting all ties with Facebook, Linked In, Instagram, Tik Tok and the Oprah book club.

Victoria Nuland is settling in at NATO headquarters as its new Secretary General. In her inaugural address to the ambassadorial corps, she insisted that the Alliance should stop waffling on the grave issues that confront it – proclaiming: “Extremism in the cause of democracy promotion is no vice, moderation in pursuit of the West’s rule-based international order is no virtue.”

Boris Johnson has announced that the Royal Navy will deploy a flotilla of miniature warships, with the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth II as flagship – in the Serpentine at Hyde Park. He proclaims that HMG wants to show all and sundry that Britain still punches above its weight (especially to those sundries who vote).

The German government of Olaf Scholz falls as leaders of the 3 coalition parties cannot agree on a definition of key concepts: e.g. ‘ambiguous,’ ‘unity,’ ‘maybe.’

A still rattled Swedish government petitions NATO to join the alliance, assuming that the ‘open door’ policy remains in force – bolstering their case by underscoring their nonpareil anti-submarine capabilities in shallow waters.

Jens Stoltenberg opens a consulting firm in Washington following the model of his predecessor Fogh Rasmussen. Its specialty: “Conflict Resolution & Conciliation.”

Liz Truss opens a ‘Special Relationship’ consulting office named GEO with dual headquarters in London and Washington – where she awaits the imminent arrival of Kamala Harris as her American partner.

Volodymyr Zelensky returns to his career as a comedian specializing in impersonations of public figures. His Café Bandara is a roaring success as a boisterous crowd of Azov veterans nightly applauds his imitations of Biden, Blinken, Austin, Nuland, Poroshenko, Macron, Stoltenberg, Erdogan and Scholz.

Vladimir Putin is still in the Kremlin – occasionally amusing himself by rewatching the famous Battle on The Permafrost scene in Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky or planning for the annual celebration of February 16 at 3:00 A.M. in honor of the historic triumph in the Mother of All Phony Invasions. This year’s special guest will be Arthur Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, who will lay a wreath at the Monument to the Unknowing Journalist.

Xi Jinping is said to be resting at a mountain clinic where he was treated for recurrent hiccups brought on by bouts of uncontrollable laughter.

Michael Brenner is a professor of international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. mbren@pitt.edu

9 comments for “FILM REVIEW: ‘War on the Dnieper’

  1. C. Parker
    February 21, 2022 at 18:06

    Oh, but this film got rave reviews in all U.S. media. Spoiler alert: CBS’ 60 Minutes reporter, Lesley Stahl, tells the viewers of the movie’s ending scene. Russia’s villainous president, Vladimir Putin, has been humiliated and forced to return home (where he’s been the whole time) as the heroic U.S. president, Joe Biden, has proven to the world he’s still a badass and strong as ever! Congress finally unites and in nonpartisan fashion they all join in a cheer USA! USA! USA!

  2. February 21, 2022 at 10:31

    Biting, funny and on the mark. Remember another time when the evidence was overwhelming against war, when the “enemy” offered to open the country to the inspectors, and our dull bastard in chief opened the gate for the dogs of war anyway.

  3. Georges Olivier Daudelin
    February 21, 2022 at 03:09

    Les affidés de la BÊTE IMPÉRIALISTE OCCIDENTALE WASHINGTONIENNE n’ont plus aucune crédibilité.

    La seule attention portée à cette meute barbare est celle de la méfiance envers des criminels psychopathes prêts à tout instant de vous attaquer pour vous détruire.

    Washington n’a qu’une mission: DÉTRUIRE NOTRE HUMANITÉ ET NOTRE PLANÈTE pour atteindre ses finalités de CUPIDITÉ, DE MARCHÉ ET D’ILLUSION POPULISTE.

  4. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
    February 20, 2022 at 22:08

    When effected diplomacy addressing half-baked geopolitics dies on its play-acting track, your politico-cinematic comedy provides the appropriate frustrated-climax, I guess. Never expected an I.R. expert to provide a cultural relief !

  5. Lois Gagnon
    February 20, 2022 at 11:06

    Thank you for the comic relief. The daily antics of our rulers and their robots in the press make me feel like Orwell’s dystopia has become reality. I wonder if he thought 1984 would be used as a blueprint rather than a warning?

  6. Allan Millard
    February 20, 2022 at 02:30

    Eisenstein’s late-1930’s film “Alexander Nevsky” is brilliant cinematography, but even better is the film score by Prokofiev who later made a 7-part stand-alone suite of the music. I found the music very moving. For anyone interested in learning a little more about Russian distrust of “the West” I recommend giving a listen to the Alexander Nevsky Suite. There are recordings in which the original Russian lyrics are sung in English.

  7. Dictynna
    February 19, 2022 at 17:44

    Lol…for a moment I thought you were discussing a real movie.

  8. robert e williamson jr
    February 19, 2022 at 16:36

    Micheal Brenner, this is golden. The levity is much appreciated and the point well made.

    The next thing coming out of Washington will be likely on April 1rst, 2022 when Putin pulls back and exposes his “Joke” on the west’s “APRIL FOOLS”

    FOR EVERYONES Edification have to get serious for a moment. I replied to a Jeff Harrison comment on Jack Matlock’s Ukraine Crisis Should Have Been Avoided. He comments that he wished we had more Ambassadors like Mr. Matlock who were not driven by ideology. Speaking of ideologies and ambassadors, in that comment I listed a timeline of sorts about where HW Bush was in his career 1-3-1967 through 1-20-1993. I submit he was engaged in hand delivering his ideologies to his prospective suitors.

    I’m not trying to drive levity from the room but instead jiggle and joggle some minds who might not have caught this the first time around in the middle 1970’s. Hell given the year we are in they may not have been born yet.

    This comes from Lock K. Johnson’s A Season Of Inquiry Revisited. His original written in 1985 was updated and revised and the book re-released in 2015. Nicely done with great new information. I recommend anyone born after 1980 read this book Lock’s additions make the book a jewel of history!

    Evidently the book needs to be required reading for anyone wanting to vote here in the US, maybe it is simply me.

    Lock doesn’t take long to make his intent obvious. Richard Helms lied to congress and it came as no surprise to anyone evidently.

    The Season of Inquiry Revisited, page two, last paragraph, “Former CIA director Allen W. Dulles (1953-1961) told the Warren Commission that when he was at the Agency’s helm, he felt obliged to tell the truth to only one person: the president. NOTE4
    p293 Rockefeller Commission established.

    On pages xii-xiv is the explanation of why the Rockefeller Commission was created, “. . . . the White House, wishing to avoid being accused of whitewashing a spy scandal followed suit (after the Church and Pike Commissions were empowered) by creating a special investigative commission of it’s own chaired by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller.” Something’s a miss here, if figure HW Bush was an advisor to the Ford White House he was head a CIA 1976

    Richard Helms former DCI lied to Congress Feb 1973 was later convicted of lying to Congress and slapped on the hands for bis efforts, 76-77.

    So goes congress and the CIA hand in hand skipping down the road to perdition.

    Allen Dullas ran the Warren Commission’s document retrieval contact George Joannides retired CIA called out of retirement to aid CIA with providing the Warren Commission’s document requests. The Big Rooster and the little Rooster guarding the CIA hen house.

    Church commission created 1/27/75 and report released 4/24/76.

    What Lock communicated in no uncertain terms is that CIA lied to congress and got away with it. He is convincing in the case he presents that congress is certainly no match for the CIA’s lying and ability to coerce the Department of Justice in protecting CIA’s secrets.

    Secrets that we now know covered up significant facts about the death on one John F. Kennedy.

    Again I ask who calls the shots in DC, the president or that unwieldily secret arm of government. I thinking both political parties are compromised by such a monster and paid off by the MIC / Banker Lobby.

    Thanks CN

  9. February 19, 2022 at 14:58

    Brilliant. You’?l never make CNN’s resident academic expert spot now

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