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Lions For Lambs (2007)  rating

Review: written 2018

Earnest but uninvolving

 Lions For Lambs (2007)

You know those movies that you watch, and find so compelling you say to people `you HAVE to see this movie...'? Well, this movie aims for that sort of accolade, but alas merely reaches the heights of `Yeah, it's worth watching...'.

The film revolves around 3 storylines, essentially taking place simultaneously, and in real time, but this structure is not religiously adhered to as there are also some flashbacks. In Washington, a senior Senator rumoured to be a potential Presidential candidate, invites a respected journalist from a major TV news network, to give her an exclusive on the latest tactics being used in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, that push is shown through the eyes of two soldiers in the Special Forces, as the mission goes wrong and they are stuck behind enemy lines. The final strand is in a University, as the professor Robert Redford talks to a student full of potential but accompanied by cynicism and apathy. He shares his experience with the story of the two Special Forces soldiers, who were students of his and left to `go make a difference'.

It's a movie brimming with talent to be sure, with Robert Redford directing and Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep acting their socks off.. Cruise does give a compellingly convincing portrayal of a senior politician, convinced of his moral high ground but using it to further his career as much or perhaps even more so, than doing the right thing. Streep also gives a performance which at times seems just a little too self-consciously rounded, when something stripped down to basics would have done just as well. Her tics and mannerisms would have been better served in a movie which focused on her character. Redford is.. well, simply Redford.

The script, when we hear the characters debating with each other (which is most of the movie - don't go expecting an action flick whatever you do..) is intelligent and gets across its message clearly enough. Engagement is needed - apathy is a recipe for disaster, whether it be apathy on an individuals’ part or on the part of the media. Clumsy parallels to Vietnam are made. However, we don't have time to warm to any of the characters, neither are arcs to the characters developed, such that the movie ultimately feels like a lecture - something that a documentary could have done as well - or even better, using actual facts instead of drama.

Worth watching for some good performances and literate script, but should have been much more. How did such interesting talent combine to make such a mediocre product - is making a statement on war so much at odds with good film-making these days?

 Lions For Lambs (2007)

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