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All Talk, No Action

7 Nov

If you’re going to go see Lions for Lambs, you’d better bring a shovel, or a first aid kit, because when it’s over you’re either going to need to do a lot of digging to get out of the heavy handed speechifying and verbosity, or you’ll be on the mend from being hit over the head with so much righteousness. No, Lions isn’t a subtle film, and I guess when you’ve got Robert Redford, Tom Cruise, and Meryl Streep headlining, how can it be?

Lions is trying to make a statement about the current state of the Iraq War, but it does so by employing a cast of archetypes: the smarmy Republican Senator (Cruise), the liberal college professor (Redford), the noble journalist (Streep), the inner-city kids who enlist in the Army and whose lives hang in the balance (Derek Luke and Michael Pena), and the spoiled college student who’s too cynical to care about any of it (newcomer Andrew Garfield). Blah, blah, blah … much talking ensues, everyone gets their jabs in at the Bush administration or makes points in support of the war, and it all adds up to, well, not very much because the movie (directed by Redford) is so uptight and full of itself. And worse, the screenplay doesn’t even sound like dialogue. It’s more like a collection of talking points strung together.

If anything’s worth mentioning positively, it’s that Lions is very well cast. After all, Cruise has lost all credibility these days, so who better to play a slick pro-war Republican Senator who is hard to take seriously? But that’s the shame of it because you have to spend a third of the movie listening to him spout off about how his new plan can help us win the war, while we simultaneously watch it fall apart in action. I wish I could say there was at least one good, heated confrontation or debate, but really, so much of Lions is just people sitting around talking that it’s a good thing it’s only 90 minutes long. I’m giving the film a C.