Saturday, November 17, 2007

Movie Review: Lions For Lambs


Featuring: Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cuise

Genre: political drama

Plot: new disastrous plan to take over Afganistan

Acting: tree big names who don’t hold back but could certainly give more

Drama: the state of affairs in America

Action: bad war scenes… the verbal duel is somehow enthralling but lacking as a whole

Funny: no, and it wasn’t supposed to be

Visuals: poor, cheap… miles away from being Hallmark material… and it’s just not right for Robert Redford at his age to look better than Tom Cruise.

Soundtrack: did it have one?

Comments: The movie is definitely telling the truth but even with two if not three very good actors fails to deliver. Why? First it should have started with a better script. The three interdependent storylines never intersect and the movie isn’t perceived as a tight unit. Second there are problems with each storyline. Cruise tries and he usually is, or used to be, good in debating stories. This time it just doesn’t work. I initially blamed it on the script and it’s true that his character is weaker than the other two but the movie is badly written as a whole given that it’s not smart and it’s just stating facts. And then it occurred to me. Cruise will never be believable portraying such a character, even if he as an actor might be able to do it, we are just too used to see him as the good guy, maybe not perfect but definitely a good guy, a hero, to the core.

With Meryl Streep there’s whole different problem. She does a very good job, but somehow I would have imagined her part being played with more edge or by someone with more edge. She’s supposed to be a tough reporter who’d covered wars in her career before too. And she gets a panic attack when she understands the truth? What about the hotflushes she displays? At those 57 years of age we’re told she is menopause had to be over, people. As for the crying at the sight of the graves… she wouldn’t have survived in the business for so long if she had been so impressionable.

The poor soldiers sent on a death mission are not at fault. Their background and education had brought them there and their characters were too much schematized to expect anything more. Want a war movie? Watch Rescue Dawn, there’s true war.

So now we get to the college scenes, the place where America’s future is being prepared. Well, by the look of it there’s not much hope for that future. What bother is the fact that we’re seeing nothing to convince us that Redford’s character really is a brilliant professor. He is being academic, detached somehow in spite of his honest efforts to wake up a so called bright promising student. That we don’t buy his belief it’s beside the point.

The most annoying and ultimately disappointed part is that through the entire duration of the movie it keeps you waiting for something, something worth waiting for, something defining, a catharsis, that we don’t get. The movie is left with an open ending that should somehow suggest America’s options to take one path or another and make a change, but once again it doesn’t have the impact they were hoping for. As a political and social statement it works, but as a cinematical experience it doesn’t, not at all.

Rating: 3/5

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