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Stop-Loss (2008)

 -  Drama | War  -  28 March 2008 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 16,625 users   Metascore: 61/100
Reviews: 98 user | 143 critic | 35 from Metacritic.com

A veteran soldier returns from his completed tour of duty in Iraq, only to find his life turned upside down when he is arbitrarily ordered to return to field duty by the Army.

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Title: Stop-Loss (2008)

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Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Alexandra Nicole Hulme, Lawrie Brewster
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Quay Terry ...
Matthew Scott Wilcox ...
Connett Brewer ...
Curtis (as Connett M. Brewer)
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Storyline

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 Paramount Pictures

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The bravest place to stand is by each other's side.

Genres:

Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic violence and pervasive language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 March 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Untitled Kimberly Peirce Project  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$4,555,117 (USA) (28 March 2008)

Gross:

$10,911,750 (USA) (13 June 2008)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The younger brother of co-writer and director Kimberly Peirce served in the military after 9/11. She IM'd him regularly from the day he landed in Iraq and learned what his everyday life was like. This gave her a window into the young men signing up, their training and aspirations, their experiences in Iraq, and what happened when they came home. See more »

Goofs

When Brandon is fleeing to Washington and while still in Texas, there is a shot of a bus going by which is a Ride-On bus, which only operates in Montgomery County, MD. See more »

Quotes

[from trailer]
Senator Orton Worrell: Your country needs you to go back. You know it's the right thing to do.
Brandon King: Sir, I've always done the right thing. And this is wrong.
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Connections

Featured in Siskel & Ebert: Episode dated 29 March 2008 (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

America the Beautiful
Traditional
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Noble Effort
4 August 2008 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Well intentioned, this film tells the fictional story of Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe), an American soldier who, after successfully completing a heroic but horrendous tour of duty in Iraq, is notified that, despite his wishes, he must return to Iraq for yet more combat duty, a real-life contingency called "stop-loss". It's a fate that neither King, nor real-life soldiers, want or deserve, but which the U.S. government justifies in lieu of a wartime draft.

The film's first few minutes provide a montage of images and scenes showing King, and his men, in Iraq, as they bond together as protective buddies, and as they endure a violent urban ambush, during which several buddies get killed or seriously wounded.

Back home in Texas, King and a couple of his men briefly celebrate their hero status. But life for them quickly deteriorates, as their wartime trauma leaves both physical and mental scars. And then, King gets his "stop-loss" notice. This sets up the rest of the film's plot.

The theme here is obvious. The brave soldier, having endured more than enough danger and trauma, is still just a powerless individual. As such, he or she is caught between having to resubmit to the horrors of war, or submit to a perilous and life-altering AWOL status in the U.S., or elsewhere, forever on the run from an overpowering American political system. It's a timely and worthy subject for a film.

That much effort and care went into the creation of the film, from background research to attention to detail in costumes, production design, and military protocol is obvious.

And the film's color cinematography also is quite good. There are lots of close-ups, to get a feel for what the characters are going through. Many scenes feature natural lighting, used in clever ways. At times, the film has an almost documentary look and feel. Acting is overall credible. I especially liked the performances of Linda Emond, as King's mom, and Abbie Cornish, as a young woman who tries to help King.

The major problem is the script. Characters are rather stereotyped and two-dimensional. The plot is fairly predictable. And the story and its attendant theme are a tad too direct. I could have wished for a little more depth, and a plot twist or two. The film's ending is not very satisfying.

Yet, "Stop-Loss" is a noble effort to document the brutality not only of war but also of an American government that uses, then basically throws away, people, to ensure the preservation of an American war industry and continued power of faceless bureaucrats and corrupt politicians.


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