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: MGM (Video & DVD)
Original Release Date:
- Tom Cruise
- Meryl Streep
- Robert Redford
- Michael Peña
- Andrew Garfield
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
More Like Serious Outcomes For Deals Made,
This review is from: Lions For Lambs (Amazon Video)This Lions For Lambs film carefully deals with the what if outcomes of some of the lives affected by the military conflicts in Afghanistan. The film also shows various interconnecting plots within the film; The characters of Professor Stephen Malley talking to one of his students Todd Hayes (Andrew Garfield) of the multiple doors open for him professionally with what he has been given. Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise) explains to Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) his plans and strategies for dealing with the Afghanistan military situation. Janine Roth explains to her colleague (Kevin Dunn) what she thinks has begun with the news and details she has been given about Afghanistan. There is a strong and enduring friendship between the characters of Ernest Rodriguez (Michael Pena) and Arian Finch (Derek Luke) that endures both through college and when they go off to Afghanistan together. The film also shows the character of a military officer (Peter Berg) being faced with difficult... Read more
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Worth seeing for the sake of grasping how young people in the military are often betrayed by their country.,
This review is from: Lions For Lambs (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)Unknown or little-known actors would probably have put across this important and essentially true story far better, and the genuine power of the soldiers in their scenes, played by little-knowns, is undeniable. Meryl Streep indulged in prioritizing character quirks above the actual meat of the script (she's a terrific actress, but playing to the balcony, theater-style, even when the camera is practically in her face, can easily sabotage a story in which the jigsaw pieces of the events have to be understood, yet most directors let her get away with it, and that's probably how she developed this really bad fall-back habit), which pretty much nullified both her character's role and the real-life person's work in the real-life situation/events. And Redford's essentially static staging of his own scenes --if understandable for an actor also directing and on a limited budget and schedule-- pretty much nullified illuminating the egotism of sophomoric college students rationalizing their... Read more
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Like Hegel Said, Nobody Learns from History,
This review is from: Lions For Lambs (Full Screen Edition) (DVD)
"History repeats itself," starring Tom Cruise as the bad guy. A drama critic might say the characters are one-dimensional--Redford does the disenchanted professor, Cruise the scheming politician. Streep has had her off-camera epiphany before the movie started, and her lump of a boss has his counter-epiphany likewise. But the interweaving of the three stories is, in my simple opinion, very effective. I should explain that in "real" life I am actually a historian, which biases me toward movies like this. If you just think we should drop more bombs and have more drone strikes, and that will solve the problem, you may not agree, or like this picture. Same applies to Green Zone, which I'm about to review.
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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.