Lions for Lambs (2007)



Director:     Robert Redford.

Starring:     Robert Redford (Professor Stephen Malley), Meryl Streep (Janine Roth), Tom Cruise (Senator Jasper Irving), Michael Peņa (Ernest Rodriguez), Andrew Garfield (Todd Hayes), Peter Berg (Lt. Col. Falco), Kevin Dunn (ANX Editor), Derek Luke (Arian Finch).

talky movie about Iraq War



Spoiler Warning:

My wife and I hated this movie.  It was mostly just talk, talk, talk. Most of the film is consumed by just two long conversations.  Professor Stephen Malley wastes his time on an arrogant, self-satisfied, smart-assed student Todd Hayes.  The conversation goes on and on with the professor spinning his wheels over and over again trying to convince the young man that he is not living up to his potential and is wasting his education.  If it was me as professor, I would have given him about 15 minutes.  I would have told him that with his attitude and demeanor, it would probably be better for him to drop out of school for awhile and get a job.  The student is just wasting his or his parent's time and money as it is.  Let him go to the school of hard knocks and hope that it knocks his terrible attitude out of him.  Now if he does very well at his job and really likes it, then that's great for him.  Some people don't need college to be a success.  But with that attitude he has, it probably won't suit him for most jobs anyway.   Who really likes an arrogant, smart-ass with an answer for everything, even if his answers are lame?  The kid's reasons for not going to class are childish in the extreme.  For instance, he justifies his poor attitude because he says the society around him is so corrupt and dirty.  All the more reason to study and help change the situation.  But words just seem to be wasted on this young man. 

Senator Jasper Irving is a man just full of himself and is a man who will do almost anything to become President of the United States.  He calls in reporter Janine Roth promising her a really good news story.  This egomaniac comes up with a stupid plan.  He wants to put special forces on top of mountains with great views of the surrounding areas so the Americans can watch the movements of the enemy.  And this in an age of satellites and great aerial photography and now drones.  And what good is it to station special forces in isolated areas on top of mountains when the isolation is so complete that the special forces couldn't do anything to an enemy it was watching.  This man keeps going on and on repeating the same few simple arguments he has.  His enthusiasm is not a good thing to build a plan on. 

The only good point made in the second conversation is that the American press was a cheerleader for the Iraq War.  But that's what happens in wars.  Journalists are too scared to speak out against a war at the beginning.  They are scared of losing their jobs by writing anti-war articles.  So, yes, journalists become cheerleaders, but so what else is new?  They start getting critical after the war bogs down and just drags on and on and people tire of it.  

So here are two long conversations that will basically bore you to death.  And you don't learn much history here. 

They have a third part to the film.  Two students of Dr. Malley drop out of school saying that action is better than education.  They use their education to argue that it is far better to drop out of school and become a soldier and fight in Afghanistan. Their arguments are just stupid.  You figure from the start that they are going to end up dead on the battlefield with their gung-ho attitudes.  The United States has a professional, standing army.  A very small group of Americans ever have to worry about serving in the army, if they don't want to fight.  These guys should have studied about what happened in Vietnam and then made a decision.  The United States has had a long history now of unnecessary and unsuccessful wars: the Vietnam War, the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War.  The populace starts out all excited about these wars, but they soon tire of them after many years of unfruitful battles.  Vietnam taught the military not to trust the American public, because their wars were all something to be avoided.  So, to avoid mass demonstrations, they went professional. 

Two students full of good will die in combat and for what?  Their thinking and arguments only bring them death in Afghanistan.  (America's mistake was to take and hold Afghanistan.  In the final analysis, Afghanistan will end up setting up its own government.)

Now many conservatives will argue that these recent wars were necessary wars.  But they are the same people that argue that the vote of blacks, browns, students and older people should be definitely restricted so white males can still rule the country.  Racism and a war mentality seem to go hand and hand together. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 



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