"Lions for Lambs"
Directed by Robert Redford.
Written by Matthew Michael Carnahan.
Starring Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise and Andrew
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 11/12/07
"Lions for Lambs" is strangely ordinary,
given the pedigree of the people involved in the film...and, as a
multi-story arc that centers on differing viewpoints of the war in
Iraq, I was surprised that the film doesn't really shed any new
light on what we already know about the nation's struggles during
this important window of time.
We get three stories that all take place
during the same one hour of one day in different parts of the world.
In California, a professor (Robert Redford) tries to convince one of
his students (Andrew Garfield) to maximize his potential, not unlike
two of his former students (Derek Luke and Michael Peña) from recent
classes. In Washington, Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise), a
GOP senator who is implementing a new plan of attack in Afghanistan,
allows a reporter (Meryl Streep) who helped Irving gain national
attention when he first gained office learn about a potential scoop
which could put her news division back on the map. And, in
Afghanistan, those former prize students (again, Luke and Peña) lead
a platoon of Special Forces soldiers on a mission that was approved
by Irving's master planners.
The segment that I thought worked the best
was the professor/student dialogue between Redford and Garfield; it
comes off as realistic (of course, this hotshot student thinks that
despite his potential, he can't have an influence on the world) but
not too preachy from the professor's side...and, he makes good
points to the student about his chances of affecting the world, on
and on and on. It flashes back to some of the student's
classes, as well as a presentation that the two soldiers made back
when they were in the professor's class...all of this works
reasonably well. It won't blow you away but at least it comes
off as a realistic approach to what teachers everywhere are
struggling with when it comes to keeping kids focused on the real
world in poly-sci classes.
However, the other two pieces don't work as
well. The Streep/Cruise piece has the most potential and it is
never fully realized; of course the senator is trying to sell policy
to any news organization that is buying and he knows how much of a
pounding the GOP has taken in recent months...as the Streep
character says throughout, we can never really buy into something we
can't trust, and at no point did I get the impression that this
senator was genuine, hence, this is nothing really out of the blue!
It doesn't help that I never really got the "Streep/Cruise is in top
form" feeling during their scenes together. And, the war
segment with our two leads falling out of a helicopter while a
rescue attempt is being mounted back at a base...this was just bad.
Peter Berg just isn't the right fit for this HUU-AAA!!! tough
barking sergeant type of character (he plays the guy that is leading
the rescue attempt); the scenes with Luke and Peña disabled in the
mountains while being pursued by Afghani soldiers don't work and
look REALLY low-budget; hell, at one point, it looks like the two
guys are playing paddycake while in the chopper, not something that
you would imagine tough-guy soldiers to be doing while flying over a
potentially hot landing zone.
"Lions for Lambs" is disappointing, not
because it is so awful as much as it doesn't really rise above a
poor movie pack this Oscar season. At least it was over after
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard