Home of the Brave (2006) 




Director:     Irwin Winkler. 

Starring:     Samuel L. Jackson (Will Marsh),  Jessica Biel (Vanessa Price),  Brian Presley (Tommy Yates),  50 Cent (Jamal Aiken),  Christina Ricci (Sarah Schivino),  Chad Michael Murray (Jordan Owens),  Victoria Rowell (Penelope Marsh) ,  Jeffrey Nordling (Cary),  Vyto Ruginis (Hank Yates),  Sam Jones III (Billy Marsh),  James MacDonald (Ray),  Sandra Nelson (V.A. Hospital Doctor),  Jack Serino (Pvt. Shar),  Brendan Wayne (Spc. Pendilla),  Mohamed Zinathlah (Amad Kamal).

three soldiers, including a doctor, have difficulty adjusting to life at home following a long and difficult tour of duty in Iraq



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the movie. 

A soldiers tells doctor Will Marsh:  "Headed out in 2 weeks, sir."    The black doctor tells his young Iraqi boy patient:  "Hear that, I'm going home."  The guys play football. 

Vanessa, another soldier, speaks to her mother about coming home. 

Sarge comes and tells his men and women:  Change of plans. They are going on a supply run.  It an humanitarian mission providing medical supplies and a doctor.  The doctor chosen to go  

Doctor rides with a specialist on his first trip past the wire (i.e. boundary).  The truck convoy gets trapped on a city street.  The soldiers are very jittery.  The new driver gets killed first.  It's an ambush.  A RPG takes an army truck out.  Vanessa backs up her truck and then pushes through.  A group of American soldiers start clearing the buildings.  Vanessa and her partner try to get back to the main road.  Suddenly, an IED goes off and explodes under the truck.  Will Marsh runs to her vehicle and helps her out of the truck.  She is going into shock.  She has her passenger's blood all over her.  Will keeps her awake.  She screams and cries.  Some soldiers start a house to house search for their attackers.  Jamal and two friends, Tommy and Jordan, chase after a few of their attackers who jump out a window.  Jordan shouts to Tommy that he got a guy.  Then Jordan is shot from behind a wall is very close to him.  Tommy rushes to him.  He holds his buddy in his arms, but Jordan dies.  Vanessa is helicoptered out. 

Spokane, Washington, USA.  Will returns to his family.  They have a BBQ party and Will cooks.  At night he has trouble sleeping.  He is wide awake.  Funeral services take place for Jordan.  There is a seven gun salute and then the bugler plays taps.  Jordan's mother and sister receive the flag from off the casket. 

Tommy visits Jordan's sister.  He tells her that his girlfriend Molly and he broke up.  She wrote him a "Dear John" letter.  He says that Jordan died defending his country, but Sarah says:  "You don't really believe that?"  WEhy yes, he does. 

Vanessa has received a bad injury to her hand.  She has flashbacks of the explosion and the blood.     

Tommy opens a package of his deceased friend's property.  Sarah cries.

Vanessa goes home and is welcomed by her family.  She hugs her son.  She has lost her hand and now has a prosthetic hand. 

Dr. Will has trouble with his son, who is avoiding him. 

Vanessa goes back to her job as a PE coach.  But now she has trouble even picking up a ball. 

Tommy's previous job in a gun shop was given away to someone else.  The employer apologizes but says he had to do it. He then asks Tommy a number of questions, including  Did you shoot anyone?  Did you kill anybody?  To the latter question Tommy answers:  "I didn't stick around to find out." 

Vanessa drops her books.  A fellow teacher, named Cary, asks her out for coffee but she turns him down.  She is very edgy and even rude.  She just doesn't want anyone's help. 

Will's wife goes down to the living room where he watches TV.  She tells him:  "Come back to bed, baby."  Will tells her he can't sleep.  She wants to know what happened to him "over there".  He wonders if she really does want to know and then walks away from her. 

Tommy works as a movie ticket salesperson.  Vanessa appears at his window and say that she thinks she knows him. They talk later.  He says that he lost his best friend over there.  They discuss the different medications they are both taking.  They share similar feelings and enjoy comparing notes.  The little things that once seemed important to now often seem so petty now.  Tommy gets involved in a road rage incident.  The driver turns out to be a woman and he stops pursuing her. 

Tommy talks with his father.  Dad is too hard on him, pushing him to become a police officer.  And he doesn't want him to seek professional services because the police may think there is something wrong with him.

Vanessa comes home to find that her boyfriend Ray is staying for dinner.  She tells him that she wants to do this another time.  Ray leaves.  Mom doesn't approve.  Vanessa shouts at her kid. 

Tommy gets into group therapy with other veterans.  Jamal doesn't really want to be in group.  He thinks it is not helpful at all.  He laughs at a Vietnam Vet, asking him if he fought at Gettysburg. He thinks the fellow should be long over any mental problems by now, so many years after the end of the Vietnam War.  Jamal accuses Tommy of day-dreaming and getting Jordan killed.  He alienates everybody in the group.  Tommy leaves. 

Vanessa doesn't want any more medication.  She shows real resentment and anger to her doctor.  Ray comes to see her and wants to know why she doesn't return his calls.  Vanessa finally tells him that it is over. He wants to know:  "What did I do?"  She responds:  "It's not about you."  He leaves angry after telling her off. 

Will doesn't feel good during an operation and asks another doctor to finish up.  He has flashbacks.  Vanessa comes to visit him.  She was at Walter Reed hospital for a month.  She says:  "You're a hero, at least to me."  He thanks her for the remark.  Will has to go into school about his oldest child.  Dr. Marsh defends his son's right to wear an anti-war shirt.  The administrator gets mad and Will get more mad saying:  "Buck you, you son-of-a-bitch."  Outside the school, his son says:  "That was really cool, dad."  But Will still grounds his son for a month.  He is a bit miffed at his son.  He says:  "So you're against the war? .  . .   So we should just leave?"  His son replies that we only went over to Iraq because of the oil.  Will says that he doesn't know a thing about it.  He gets more angry and refuses to give his son a ride home.   

Jamal looks for girlfriend Keisha at her place of work at a fast food restaurant.  He wants to talk to her for just a minute.  When she won't talk to him he slugs the glass window.  She tells him to leave her alone. 

Will's wife complains about his attitude and his drinking.  She goes so far as to refer to him as an "asshole".  He glares at her and then leaves.  She throws a glass at the wall.

Jamal screams at a staff person.  Tommy runs into doc.  They both say they are o.k.  Tommy leaves.  Doc turns around and doesn't go into the building. 

Vanessa tries to break up a fight and gets pushed against a wall.  She rejects any help from Cary.  But then at night she calls Cary.  She needs someone to talk to. 

Tommy gets a call about Jamal.  He is surrounded by police in his girlfriend's place of work.  Jamal asked for him.  Tommy goes in to see him.  He has taken his girl friend and other workers as hostages.  His job at the dealership is not working out and worse, Keisha won't see him.  So he had to make her see him.  He says:  "She's one of them Tommy."  Tommy tells Jamal to go back to the center.  Jamal says he wants Tommy to go with him.  Tommy says he will.  Just as Will is making such good progress with Jamal, Jamal is hit by a bullet fired by one of the SWAT guys.  Jamal dies.  Tommy hits the wall and says damn it. 

Dad is mad at Tommy for not showing up at his appointment at the police academy.  Falcone was saving a place for him.  Tommy tells his father:  "Maybe I'm not ready for it?"  Dad tells him to stop feeling sorry for himself.  Tommy starts smashing up a car his father is working on.  His father grabs him and tells him it's o.k.  Tommy starts crying. 

Doc starts drinking and driving.  He stops to pick up some Mexican immigrants working on Thanksgiving.  He wants to say a few words.  He says:  "I know I get drunk and angry and it gets to be a bit much.  . . .  I'm going to make it right, I promise.  . . . I'm thankful for my family and friends and my new friends. "  He then starts talking about the boys who just want to come home:  "They do come home, lame and haunted, if they come home at all."  He reacts very violently when he sees a ring through his son's lip.  He grabs him and throws him on the dinner table.  He may even have pulled the ring out.  Will lets him go.  He leaves and grabs a pistol.  His wife cries and asks him to put it down.  He lets her take the pistol from him. 

Tommy goes to take the police test, but he is thinking about his situation rather than answering the test questions.  He gets up and leaves.  He goes down by the river and throws sticks into the water.  At group he talks about his growing up with a lot of his chums.  He and Jordan grew up on the same block.   He then talks about Jordan's death.  He adds that he is:  ". . . trying to make sense of all this shit.  What I do know is that I don't belong here any more." 

Will opens up in family counseling.  A month in Iraq he had just finished a 12 hour shift when all hell broke lose.  They fall under a mortar attack.  A buddy of a wounded soldier pulls a pistol on the doctor and demands that he look at his friend now.  He becomes overwhelmed by all the death and injury.  He amputated six arms and legs in three hours.  Four soldiers died on the table all under the age of 20.  He says that you feel heartbreak when you can't help someone.  And then you feel the shame because you couldn't do your job.  He also says that he doesn't feel anything when treating a patient.  He didn't even know their names.   

Cary tells Vanessa that he is surprised that she called him.  He asks what happened to her hand.  She explains that she was part of a convoy of trucks.  It was hot as hell, dusty, horrible.  The trucks in front of them got ambushed.  So the rest of the convoy took another road to get back to the main road.  She turned the corner and just drove.  And then there was a big explosion.  It was just a bomb in the road.  She says she doesn't remember anything.  She was told that she was very lucky. Cary confesses to her that he offered not because he felt sorry for her, but because she was so beautiful.  She describes herself:  "Divorced at 24 with one kid and one hand."  Cary kisses both of her hands.  She tells him to just take it slow, o.k.?  They kiss sitting on the edge of his bed.  They start laughing when they can't get her sweater off over her prosthetic hand. 

Will goes to apologize to his son.  He admits he was wrong.  He says he knows he has some issues.  Mom and he are seeing someone.  Maybe he will be asked in on the discussions at a later time.

Tommy decides to go back into the army.  He says good-bye to his parents. 

Vanessa sees doc at an  athletic contest and doc introduces his family members to her and Vanessa introduces Cary to them. 

Tommy is back in Iraq.   


Pretty good movie.  It seemed quite short to cover the impacts of war on three or four main characters.  Many soldiers develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and they have a hard time adjusting back to civilian life.  As the movie shows, this disorder is also very hard on the soldiers' families.  Also affected are boyfriends and girlfriends and co-workers at places of employment. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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