Published on April 11th, 2008 | by Chris0
Lions For Lambs (2007)
Honestly, I was somewhat dreading going into Lions For Lambs. From all the buzz I read and heard, I was expecting a wholesale administration-bashing political commentary from the Hollywood contingent on the war in Iraq.
I was wrong. Well, sort of.
The expected bashing of the current policies which has led us to the sorry state we are in is there, but fortunately, it isn't the overriding theme of the picture. And because of that, I actually found myself engrossed by the film.
Is there a particularly complex story line? No. Lots of hardcore war movie action? Again, no. What you have here is a movie that (hopefully) will make you think, and think hard.
There are three interconnected stories going on here, the first involves Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise) who has invited reporter Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) into his office to "announce" a new strategy in fighting the war on terror.
The second involves two soldiers, Finch (Derek Luke) and Rodriguez (Michael Pena) who find themselves severely injured and stranded on an Afghan mountainside after falling from their Chinook. OK, well, you have to sort of accept that they'd actually survive that... but that really doesn't matter. They're part of the first mission in this "new" strategic initiative.
The third, and probably the most interesting plot line of the picture involves a Political Science professor, Malley (Robert Redford) meeting with one of his students, Todd Hayes (Andrew Garfield.) In my opinion, *this* section of the film is what its all about. We also find a connection between Finch and Rodriguez to Dr. Malley.
Frankly, most of the picture is just talking heads. Normally, this would make for a rather dull and uninteresting 100 minutes of screen time. Not so. It's what they are saying here that grabs your attention and actually makes you think.
You see, the picture basically blames the ills of America in general, and as it relates to the war, on our own increasing apathy. Basically, we don't give a shit anymore. And you know what? They're absolutely right.
We don't learn from our past mistakes, as Roth so helpfully points out to Irving. The whole "smaller groups" and "hearts and minds" thing was done before, and it didn't exactly work out so well.
We don't understand what it means to have a stake in anything important. Hayes attitude towards his class, and life in general illustrates that. Malley's counter-arguments to him are just brilliant, and quite insightful.
Then there are our two stranded men in uniform. They signed up after Malley's trying to dissuade them. They are the ones who have the ultimate stake in things.
Sure at times things get a little preachy. Rodriguez and Finch's classroom presentation on "engagement at home" was the prime example. It somehow felt out of place, right up until they slapped their induction notices on the projector.
Basically there is no set beginning, middle, and end to the story. There isn't really a "story" to speak of. This is a philosophical journey, and by the end of it you should be thinking about everything put in front of you. I know I was.
Lions For Lambs has its weak moments, but overall I found it involving on an intellectual level you don't get from the traditional war movie.
Lions For Lambs (Widescreen Edition)
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Robert Redford, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep deliver "three knockout performances" (Vue Weekly) in this powerful story about how the decision makers at the top affect American soldiers on the ground half a world away...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Brand: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HOME ENT
Manufacturer: 20th Century Fox
Original Release Date:
- Tom Cruise
- Meryl Streep
- Robert Redford
- Michael Peña
- Andrew Garfield
Summary: Lions For Lambs has its weak moments, but overall I found it involving on an intellectual level you don't get from the traditional war movie.