Sunday 4 February 2024

Movie Review: Lions For Lambs (2007)

Genre: Drama  
Director: Robert Redford  
Starring: Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Tom Cruise, Michael Pena, Andrew Garfield  
Running Time: 92 minutes  

Synopsis: Three separate events take place concurrently. In Washington DC, veteran reporter Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) is granted an interview with up-and-coming Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise), who outlines a new military strategy for US troops in Afghanistan. In that country, soldiers Arian (Derek Luke) and Ernest (Michael Pena) are caught on a snowy ridge and have to defend themselves against enemy forces. At a California college, political science Professor Malley (Robert Redford) discusses the responsibility of citizen involvement in politics with his student Todd (Andrew Garfield).

What Works Well: Written by Matthew Michael Carnahan, this is an honest and balanced debate about the United States simultaneously waging two disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Lions For Lambs (the reference is to brave soldiers serving the whims of incompetent leaders) covers the political and intellectual angles on either side of troops dealing with on-the-ground reality. Potent themes include the media's role in a corporate world, failing to learn the Vietnam War lessons, and the rapid erosion of trust in government among young people. The stellar cast ensures engagement throughout the dialogue-heavy scenes, Tom Cruise particularly effective as the charmingly brash Senator not yet scarred by failure. 

What Does Not Work As Well: Although various viewpoints from across the political and generational spectrums are presented, the glare of the obvious regularly defeats subtle messaging.

Conclusion: While soldiers do the actual fighting, the influence battle is waged through verbal sparring.

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