Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 2007. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, United Artists, Wildwood Enterprises, Brat Na Pont Productions, Andell Entertainment, Cruise/Wagner Productions. Screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan. Cinematography by Philippe Rousselot. Produced by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tracy Falco, Andrew Hauptman, Robert Redford. Music by Mark Isham. Production Design by Jan Roelfs. Costume Design by Mary Zophres. Film Editing by Joe Hutshing.
Three stories play out simultaneously in this highly charged political drama. A university professor (Robert Redford) in California councils a student (Andrew Garfield) about his failing attendance in his political science course. In Washington, a successful journalist (Meryl Streep) is brought in to a one-hour interview with a Republican senator (Tom Cruise) who is going to give her an exclusive on a new military maneuver that he thinks will put America back in a winning position in the Middle East. At the same time, two soldiers in Afghanistan execute the maneuver and struggle to survive when things go awry. All three of these stories take a while to warm up, and it’s not really possible to say that the film is fully engaging, but by the end there have been a lot of thought-provoking arguments put forth for the audience to digest. Redford is encouraging his student to wake up to the fact that he can no longer observe life but must participate; Streep is forced to accept responsibility for her own industry’s involvement in the Iraq War; while watching the soldiers, the audience is asked to measure the difference between ideas of patriotic glory on the battlefield and the realities of struggling in combat. Talky and sometimes monotonous, it is marginally affecting, and Streep in particular does a fantastic job wiping up the floor with a mesmerizingly plastic Cruise.