Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lions for Lambs. C

Lions for Lambs wants to be a serious political movie, but it's plagued by an amateurish script possessing no information worthy of the seriousness and intensity of the characters. The set-up is strong for a political film, but once we're introduced to the multiple players and story lines, the film's political nature bows down to the domineering presence of its stars. And these stars, mainly Tom Cruise and Merryl Streep, serve as a major distraction from the movie's narrative. Robert Redford, the other big name in the cast, fits in more because of his age and because he's teacher, not a politician or reporter. There are three stories that the movie tells, and there are discernible problems in all of them. The first, a conversation between a senator (Cruise) and a harried reporter is fun to watch in terms of the performances, but hardly challenging in its political context. The second is also a conversation, but on a much smaller scale. It's between a bright but apathetic student, and a teacher, played by Redford. This discussion raises some solid arguments about young people making a stand or remaining chagrined with the current state of world affairs. But the problem here is that the dialogue is far too sharp and dead-on for a student-teacher office consultation. You really can't believe a bit of their talk. Finally, there's a story set in the middle east concerning two soldiers, former students of the teacher, who face a difficult situation after being ambushed. My issue here is mainly on a technical level. It's almost as if the director, also Redford, wasn't present during these scenes, which are poorly shot and edited. I also didn't think the fate of the soldiers made any sense at all. All three of these stories connect, since the senator planned the strategy that caused the ambush (I do sort of wonder how did since he's just a senator) and the soldiers involved were students of the professor. It's obvious that the movie is against the Cruise character, who's identity as a Republican senator all but ensures abuse from the movie's makers. But the main point of the film is almost not to make one. It says that America is in the war, that America can't leave, and that it's a terrible situation for the soldiers like the two depicted in the film. The movie is an incomplete and deeply flawed work. It doesn't hurt to watch it, but when it's over the only gain will have been to see the film's selling point: Streep, Cruise, and Redford.

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