Decorated Iraq war hero Sgt. Brandon King makes a celebrated return to his small Texas hometown following his tour of duty. He tries to resume the life he left behind. Then, against Brandon's will, the Army orders him back to duty in Iraq, which upends his world. The conflict tests everything he believes in: the bond of family, the loyalty of friendship, the limits of love and the value of honor. Written by
Stops short of being great; but still worth seeing
'Stop-Loss' deals with the problems soldiers have in getting out of the army; both through the technical procedure of "Stop-Loss", whereby a solider is sent back for a second consecutive tour of duty, but also through the difficulties of adjusting to civilian life after time on the front line. Many dramas set after the Vietnam war explored the idea that the sense of a victory well won (absent then, as now) might be critical to enabling a soldier to make the transition from combat animal back to member of civic society. The film is well made, powerfully acted, and doesn't pretend that it's characters are angels (although it justly acknowledges their bravery). But it doesn't really go very far beyond its premise, and the ending is given a slightly more upbeat (but inconclusive) spin than could have been applied. The final credits remind us of the startling high number of American troops to have fought in Afghanistan or Iraq in the 21st century; wars that are fought (for good or bad) while the rest of us get on with our lives in an altogether easier place.
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