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Lions For Lambs (2007)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox)
Genres:
Drama, Ensemble Film, Psychological Drama
Director:
Robert Redford Robert Redford
Starring:
Robert Redford Robert Redford
Meryl Streep Meryl Streep
Tom Cruise Tom Cruise
Michael Peņa Michael Peņa
Andrew Garfield Andrew Garfield

6.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 13, 2007
Two words can be used to describe Robert Redford's new anti-war drama "Lions for Lambs". Those two words are: 'overwrought patriotism'. "Lions for Lambs" is a pitiful excuse for a film on a multitude of levels. It's too political for its own good. It doesn't know when to stop recycling the same facts and jargon over and over again. But the most horrible thing it does is take three of the biggest name in cinema and give them nothing to do but sit and talk. No one wants to pay ten bucks to sit and listen to Tom Cruise talk for ninety minutes. We need something alongside that. We need action or humor or intrigue - just something other than talking. "Lions for Lambs" will alienate most audiences because of its political campaign. "Lions for Lambs" alienated me because it does not really help bring any new questions to light, nor does it seem to have any workable solutions as to how the United States can better itself in regards to these issues. "Lions for Lambs" is one of the worst films of the year because it doesn't know when to shut up. Just shut up.

The film has three areas of discussion. Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) is a reporter who has been called in to interview Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise), who wants to explain to her the United States' new plan for Afghanistan, which involves taking the high ground and using troops as bait to capture terrorists. Elsewhere, Professor Stephen Malley (Robert Redford) is sitting down with one of his students, Todd (Andrew Garfield) to try and talk him back into caring about his education. On the other side of the world, two marines (Derek Luke & Michael Pena) are stranded on a mountain in Afghanistan, surrounded by the enemy and waiting on help to arrive. These three stories interweave with one another throughout the film. You see - the two marines were former students of Robert Redford's and enlisted to join the military without his approval, though he says he still respects their decision to do so because they at least did something. Also, the operation which the Cruise character is pitching is the same operation that gets the two marines stranded in the first place. "Lions for Lambs" comes it at a lean ninety minutes in length, but it feels like three hours or more. The whole film is people sitting around and talking, and lying around and talking. There are very few bursts of action and very little acting. Like I said before, it's all just talking.

Evidently, Robert Redford thought that it would be a neat idea to film three of the biggest actors in the world sitting around and talking about politics for a few minutes. Evidently, he thought that would be enough to make an engaging motion picture. The old man has lost it. The professor and his student do nothing but talk around one another - Redford spouting out how he needs to do something with his life and stop wasting his potential, and the student spouting back that Redford is just bitter because he isn't as good as he used to be. Wow. That's original. All Tom Cruise does is tell Meryl Streep what she already knows - except he tells her about 55 times over the course of the film, but tries to make it sound different each time. And Meryl Streep just responds with what I can only consider are stock journalist responses. "Lions for Lambs" feels like it was written by a first year political science student who has yet to jump into the more complicated and accurate areas of the field. Redford directs it like he has no passion for the material and offers very little in terms of creativity and inventiveness. It's like he gave up before he even began.

As for the performances, there are none. No acting. Just talking. On the whole, I guess Redford talks better than the rest of them, just because he has more experience. Meryl Streep, generally always a delight, can do nothing with her character because there is nothing to do with it. Tom Cruise has a lot of zeal and conviction behind what he is saying, but I can't take my mind off the fact that it's Tom Cruise saying all of it. Derek Luke and Michael Pena have such worthless little characters, but they do their best with them. The standout here, I guess, would be newcomer Andrew Garfield, who does well enough pitted against Redford, but even he looks too cutesy and too adorable for his role. Peter Berg just looks dead. These performances are the kind you would expect from a Masterpiece Theatre film about the Afghanistan situation.

Damn this film for taking such promising talent and throwing it all away. Damn this film for making me, a liberal, get sick of my own opinion. "Lions for Lambs" has no purpose at all. It doesn't serve any function other than to show just how bad A-list talent can be under the right circumstances. Maybe it wants to be the anti-war film of 2007 - maybe it wants to be one of those thoughtful and introspective pictures that eventually changes policy. Whatever it wants to be, it fails at getting there. "Lions for Lambs" is one of the worst films of 2007, and it was certainly the most pointless and boring of the year. I can't believe how much I disliked this film, even though I would say that newcomer Andrew Garfield makes fine eye candy and should be on screen more often. Also watch for a neat little supporting performance from Kevin Dunn. He's good.

2/10.
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