Anthony Wonke has a wonky way of starting movies. It can never be any director’s intention to confuse the viewer into turning the movie off just to double check they’ve clicked on the right one, and yet that’s exactly the effect he creates when he introduces the topic in the most roundabout way possible.
For those of you who think you might like to tackle this documentary, know that the film will make you believe, for the first 5 minutes or so, that this is about some very bad men in Iraq, but when Mr. Iraq eventually gets to his point, which isn’t very interesting, it’s that whisky saved Iraq. Won Iraq? Whatever the hell they were doing there, whisky helped. And not just any whisky. Johnnie Walker whisky.
Note: I very much want to spell it whiskey, as I always have, and always will, but since Johnnie Walker spelled it whisky, I’ll honour his wishes this one and only time since we are indeed talking about the 200 year history of his well known and well loved brand.
Johnnie Walker was indeed a man, the son of a farmer who poured his inheritance into a grocery store where he blended and sold his own whisky, which his ancestors shrewdly turned into a global brand that may or may not help Americans end wars. Don’t worry, the hyperbole won’t stop there: Johnnie Walker was also the hero of prohibition, and the brave solver of racism. According to this documentary, which I’m beginning to suspect may be a little biased. It is not, however, contributing in any positive way to sexism, because the brand aims to be synonymous with masculinity, so if you’re a woman who drinks whisky, go fuck yourself.
But at least it’s not contradictory. For example, Johnnie Walker is a respected and recognized brand that is its own best advocate and is so sophisticated it would be demeaning to pay for product placement or celebrity endorsement, and don’t just take our word for it, let’s hear from brand ambassador Sophia Bush, or the guy in charge of pointing out it’s the preferred brand of Superman (in Superman 3) and Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford, Blade Runner).
The Man Who Walked Around the World is either a very bad documentary or a very good commercial. If you hit the red label hard enough, it probably doesn’t matter which. If you’re sober, however, you might want to…well, keep walking.