Lions for Lambs (2007) **1/2
Directed by Robert Redford
The best thing Lions for Lambs has going for it is its running time of ninety minutes. There’s so much talking in the movie that another half an hour would have had me running to my medicine cabinet for some Excedrin Migraine. You’d think a movie directed by Robert Redford, who directed Ordinary People which is my favorite movie of all time, staring
The screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan feels like a script for a bad episode of The West Wing. Carnahan tries to be Aaron Sorkin by presenting complicated political jargon, melodramatic climaxes and high speed back and forth dialogue. The only thing that’s not Sorkin-esque is the fact that characters aren’t talking to each other while walking briskly down hallways. Unfortunately, Carnahan doesn’t execute any of the three comparisons I just mentioned anywhere near as effectively as Sorkin.
The political arguments made by the six main characters have become completely cliché. Why stay in the war on terror? Because losing makes our country vulnerable to more terrorist attacks. Why have so many colossal mistakes been made in the management of the war in
The movie transitions between three conversations. The first takes place between powerful Republican Senator Jasper Irving, overacted by Tom Cruise, and a liberal television journalist named Janine Roth, played by Meryl Streep. At the beginning of the interview that transpires,
Cruise gives a bad performance as I’ve already mentioned. However, the real shocker lies in Meryl Streep’s monumentally terrible acting in Lions for Lambs. She’s playing the reporter with an odd mix of phoning it in and taking it too seriously that you’ve got to see to believe. She comes across with a bizarre combination of seeming carbed up for a marathon while ants are crawling all over her skin. She’s hyper and fidgety from beginning to end, playing the fact that her character is intimidated by the senator’s power way too obviously. No one can argue that these two have on screen presence like few other actors in movie history. Here’s hoping this film will be forgotten about all together for their sakes.
An uneven second story involves two soldiers who fall out a helicopter in
Pena and Luke give fine performances. They also appear in a political science classroom giving a presentation unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my college classes. The other students yell comments at them as if they were in a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The cheesy ending rings completely false, and their somewhat selfish motives for enlisting in the first place do nothing to contrast the argument against apathy that’s presented in the third storyline.
This final conversation, also the film’s best, occurs between Robert Redford and Andrew Garfield.
There’s too much ambition in a film with a screenplay by a guy that I’m not sure has the talent to pull it off. I’ve been watching quite a few movies about the present wars over the past couple months, and I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s extremely hard to make a good one at this time in our nation’s history. Every film seems to hold back in its praise or condemnation almost as if filmmakers don’t want to be seen as being on the wrong side of the unfolding debate. Maybe the War in