Friday, March 28, 2008


The Iraq War. This subject has been the inspiration for many films from the past couple of years. Lions For Lambs, Rendition, and Redacted all pop into mind. And then there is Stop-Loss. Stop-Loss comes from controversial director Kimberly Peirce (Boy's Don't Cry), and is written by her and Mark Richard. Now, with that pedigree, you would expect a scathing criticism on the Bush administration and this war. Is that the case with this new film?

Not really. Stop-Loss is a tale of two freinds Brandon King and Steve Shriver, who come home to a glorious return. They return to their hometown in Texas, as heroes. However, when he goes to get out, Brandon discovers that, due to some "fine print", he is due back at the end of the month. He has been Stop-Lossed. This destroys his world. He decides that he did his job, fought for his country, and doesn't need to go back. Before his return, he was in a fight, and lost three men in an ambush. He feels that he has done what he needed to do, and lost some friends in the process. So, he decides to head to Washington, D.C. On his way, he runs into many problems. Post tramatic stress, lost freind, torn relationships with others. Now, this review is sort of based around my opinion on the end, so I will just stop there, and be as careful as to not give anything away.

Was this a good film? Kind of. Channing Tatum plays Srgt. Shriver, and he is really good. He is just tough enough, just sensitive enough to play this perfectly. It's like his character from A Guide To Reckognizing Your Saints, just grown up. Joseph Gordon-Levitt adds another great performance as the emotionally destroyed Tommy Burgess, and the supporting cast does a good as well. Nothing amazing, but they get the job done and make the movie work. Also, in the wake of all of these Iraq movies, this movie actually does a solid job in putting us in Iraq, as much as a film at this point in the war can, without being to much. It's all handheld and very Bourne Ultimatum-esque, and really works as an opening to the film. That's just it though, it wasn't the opening. This movie had some definet problems.

The movie really just slows done to a hault. Okay, so the premise is great. You are a great soldier, who does your duty and you get screwed by the government. Great idea, and sounds like it would be a solid film. However, this just doesn't do anything. It doesn't tell us anything. It's the same tired dialouge throughout the entire film. It's him complaining that the government screwed him and he needs to fight it. However, this is all really just a waste of time. There is one scene that would have been an amazing ending. If you've seen the film, there is a shot of the Ryan Phillipe and Abbie Cornish are in a bar and, if the film ended there, it would have worked. However, it doesn't and it keeps going on, and on, and on. There is some great scenes, and the dialouge between the freinds in Iraq and at Phillipe's ranch, are really good. However, they are just bogged down by this redundant and tired story. Thats my main quabble, at least the only one I can discuss here. If you see it, and have thoughts, please post, I want to hear what you have to say. The intentions behind it are really great. Kimberly Peirce, the director, had a brother who fought, and she doesn't do anything that would offend an acting or retired soldier. Now, i've never fought, and never will, so I really hate reviewing this movie. It's a movie that needs to be made, just better. This is a great premise, with solid performances, outside the two main characters. Ryan Phillipe and Abbie Cornish are unbearable. Phillipe has a horrible Texas accent and his character sort of got annoying, at least in a theatrical sense, and Cornish is just kind of awkward and overacting the entire time.

Visually, this film actually works. It's got a very, "you're there" tone, no bright colors, no amazing camera effects, and when there are handheld florishes, they work for the film. This is not a good film, but it's not horrible either. Although, I can't recomend it at all. The ending is so bad, and it really negates anything that had been done. I would say see this movie, but there will be a better one coming out soon, called the Recruiter, that had great reviews out of Sundance, so wait and see that. 4/10...

Go see something good...

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