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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.
Stop-Loss follows the fictional story of a soldier, Brandon King (Ryan Philippe), who has returned home after a tour in Iraq. His contract is up and he just about to get out when he is stop-lossed (a "fine-print" section in all soldiers' contracts that gives the President the power to extended soldier's contracts in time of war). He refuses to be shipped back to Iraq, and goes AWOL in search of his state's senator for help. What follows is his road trip to fight the stop-loss as well as showing the devastating affects his fellow soldiers (Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt) experience from the horrible war. Its' acting, directing, and writing had such a feeling of authenticity, and combined with the fact that 81,000 of our brave soldiers have already been stop-lossed since Spetember 11,2001, this film feels like a true story.
One thing that made this film succeed so well was it's director was a woman, and she was able to make a movie were you could feel and see the emotions these guys were feeling even as they would desperately try and mask them.
The acting was extraordinary from the three main soldiers, most notably Ryan Philippe who is so gritty and real in his performance that he seems like he actually is a marine. Channing Tatum gives a genuine performance, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt's is the most haunting of the trio as a soldier who fights his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with excessive amounts of booze and slowly slips into a deep hole of despair.
This films is not a propaganda piece, it simply portrays something that is going on right now. It brings up many good points, but never bashes you with a certain viewpoint but leaves it to you to decide. This is such emotionally powerful, deeply moving film, the best film I have seen since the year started, and destined to be one of my favorites from this year.
Other than those things, it isn't a bad movie. Just inaccurate. I served three tours in Iraq already and I was stop-lossed for my second one. I knew I was stop-lossed over three months before I left, they didn't wait until two weeks before it was time to go to tell me I was stop-lossed. I made the decision to reenlist later on instead of getting out at the end of my second tour.
This movie is more movie-ish than those I mentioned. It works as entertainment(that sounds wrong) as well as being informative. It's showing you a certain situation people are going through but it's also a "movie", with action scenes, good acting, relationship issues, etc. As I said the acting is good. Ryan Phillipe is I want to say underrated, but maybe he's not rated at all. He's an extremely good looking person who could have just been in romantic comedies and made some nice money that way, but instead he's carved out an interesting resume for himself. He does some of his best work here. Joseph Gordon Levitt, everyone's favorite young indie actor, shows up here as well, although he has a smaller role than he normally does. He and the rest of the cast were also really good. Ciaran Hinds makes an interesting cowboy, btw. I wouldn't have guessed that. The only problem I may have had with the film is that I didn't like the ending. But that doesn't take away from the fact that I think this is a well-made movie.
The film is serious. It'll probably be depressing for most people. But hey life is depressing right now. Especially for people involved in this situation and maybe those folks should consider whether they should really watch it or not. Because I would think they'd want to escape that reality. The people who aren't paying attention to what's going on should see it. I'd have less problem recommending this to them. I think it's the least likely of the Iraq based movies to offend anyone. It's got a few violent war scenes but nothing over-the-top or terribly graphic. It's just basically wave at you saying "hel-lo, this is the stuff you're trying to ignore but should really be paying attention to.' There is a normal amount of cursing and no naked people that I can remember.
If you haven't been watching the Iraq war centered movies, it's time you saw one and this would probably be the easiest to take.
Peirce takes on as her subject the military's stop-loss clause, essentially a back door draft by which the military can use fine print in recruits' contracts to prevent them from getting out once their time is up. Peirce obviously feels strongly about the policy, but what should be a hard-hitting drama feels instead like a rather preachy after-school special. She coaxes a nice performance out of Ryan Phillipe, as the soldier who goes AWOL when his stop-loss clause is activated, but she doesn't fare as well with the rest of the cast. The film suffers from confusing editing, that doesn't always make it clear where characters are or how events are related to one another, and the writing at times is weak as well, with character motivations not coming across as clearly as they should.
I don't know what it is about the Iraq conflict that makes it so hard for filmmakers to make good movies about it. Maybe it will have to be over for a while before anyone can begin to approach it with any success.
It occurred to me at one point this was quite like watching a "Deer Hunter" for the Iraq war. There were certainly similar aspects, including aspects of the soldiers' relationships with each other and with others at home, and in terms of the casualties and injuries that continue to pile up well after leaving the battlefield.
Stop Loss is perhaps a more political film than the "Deer Hunter" was, because of the timing of its release, while the issues of the war in the film are still very much on the boil in the USA. I think it intends to position itself in a relevant and timely place, and time will tell whether it has staying power as a lasting and powerful war or antiwar film.
There is enough humanity, good drama and strong acting in this picture that it may deserve a place in the lineup of memorable or important American war films.
I've seen a preview of this movie a few days before and was not impressed by the trailer. It looked like another belated anti-war movie (better late then never), with youthful actors looking ruggedly pretty for the camera.
What I saw was a fist full of reality mixed with a great story of, I guess, a youth becoming a man not in a sexual way.
The plot is obvious from the trailer, so there is nothing I can give away. The ending was not surprising, at least to me. And the ending was both obvious and powerful.
The beginning is very life like. If you've seen Gunner Palace, or been to this war, you'll recognize it. It starts in a format of home movies made by soldiers who serve in Iraq. It was apparently based on the films and photographs shot by actual soldiers. Some of this footage was included into these opening sequences, much was recreated by the actors. So it is ultra realistic. The only way to tell them apart is to look for Ryan Philippe, who is good in his role but stands out due to being easily recognizable.
The film quickly moves into a war sequence, demonstrating the horrors of war. Do not expect to see the charge of the light brigade. It is not a massive battle, but you will see the bullets flying, and more importantly killing. If you were put off by the violence in Saving Private Ryan, you may want to close your eyes for a few minutes at this point. Past the gun battle we are back in the States. So the Iraq part is only about 20 minutes.
The real story kicks in when Ryan Philippe with his war buddies returns home a decorated war hero looking forward to put the past behind him only to find out that his contract was extended by the Stop Loss policy and he is to go back to Iraq. The film does not become boring or preachy. And through the main character's journey both we and he realize that he has very few options: go to jail, abandon (physically) the country and everything he is and has, or go back to war. What choice can he make? So what was my point about the "becoming a man" story? Well, the way I see it, the main character's final decision, is not just forced on him. It springs not from fear or just inevitability, but from his sense of responsibility towards his parents and friends I'm not going to say 'country', this has nothing to do with flag waving patriotism. His accepting to go back, is an act of an adult. He accepts all the horror, the risk, the BS, the unfairness. He does it through a conscious decision. The decision is to take care of those who depend on him. That sounds pretty grown up to me.
Thanks go out to Kimberly Peirce, who wrote and directed this film. And directly in front of whom I was sitting quietly last night while she was presenting her movie.
You also may want to check out Harsh Times, Gunner Palace and The Execution of Private Slovik.
Stop-Loss tells the story of a group of soldiers from Texas who are coming home from Iraq. Just before they see stateside, they encounter an ambush that kills three of their respected brothers. The squad leader Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) feels responsible for the deaths. He intends to leave the service for good when he gets back along with his best friend (Channing Tatum). This is good news to Brandon's family; his father (the great Cirian Hinds) was a vet from Vietnam. This is also good news for his friend's fiancé (Abbie Cornish), whose love only shadows her loneliness.
But when Brandon turns in his gear and paperwork, he is told that he's to ship back out to Iraq on a stop-loss, which he instantly contests with his superior (Timothy Olyphant). The result has Brandon on the run as he goes AWOL to find a way out of going. He is aided by his friend's fiancé; he decides his best chance is to convince a local senator in Washington to help him. Along the way, he gets a tour of conscience. He meets the family of one of his dead men, whose brother knows about people who could get soldiers through to Canada. He also goes to see another of his comrades (Victor Russak), who was severely wounded in the conflict. And at the end, Brandon must make one of the hardest decisions that anyone will ever have to face.
Love it or hate it, this film has be one of the most unusual films dealing with war. It neither sides for the conflict in Iraq or against it, finding the argument to be beside the point. No doubt that Brandon does say something unflattering about his Commander-in-Chief in one scene, but the film makes it's bravest decision in being pro-soldier from beginning to end. We like these guys, we honor their dedication to our country and we only want them to find happiness and safety back home. But we can tell nearly from the start that coming home isn't going to be easy when tensions flare up in unpredictable ways. One of the men (played flawlessly by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) seems to need violence in order to feel normal. The film doesn't hate him for it, nor do we since we know that, in the words of another great movie, he had "a bad war".
There is something to be said about the decisions made in this film. In lesser movies, Brandon's decision would be more clear-cut depending on the filmmaker's political views. There would be some who call Brandon's plight cowardice and the film addresses this by allowing Brandon to have more than a couple of emotions. He's not afraid to fight or to die, but has a more interesting reason to resist. And the film doesn't see any easy answer in the options left to him. We see the life of another AWOL soldier up-close. There's nothing pretty about that.
A lot of the success of the film has to go to the amazing casting of the film. I have never been much of a fan for Ryan Phillippe), but he might have just converted me. This is an amazing performance of such complexity and earnestness that I was left truly amazed. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been a rising independent superstar, completely washing away his child actor days in films that are challenging, playing parts that require his brand of smooth ferocity. This character is important even though he does little for the plot by being a tragic figure. I believe he might see his first nomination for this role. But my favorite performance may also be the most worthy of the Oscar this year: Abbie Cornish. Cornish isn't just throwing diamonds as a young woman in love with an impossible man.
Stop-Loss might just be the best military film since Platoon that deals with soldiers as individuals and not part of a strategy board. Kimberly Pierce, whose first and only other film was Boys Don't Cry, sees soldiers in a way that other filmmakers haven't (and those filmmakers are almost exclusively male, a few veterans themselves). She declares that she had documented hundreds of interviews with soldiers. This is one of the extremely rare cases that fiction proves to be the better format over documentary. In making this a fictional tale, she can tell a broader story and accompany the emotional journey of all her characters. She did this with her first film, which told the sad story of Brandon Teena. I didn't think that she could have made a better film than that. She has proved that she could and has.
All in all, I love this film and cannot recommend this to enough people. It's going to be attacked unfairly by the pro-war crowd who either feel that the film encourages wrong behaviors or weakening morale. In fact, I think that the film shows the real indomitable spirit of the fighting men with honor. But I also find that those who attack movies like these usually think that the best way to support the troops is to keep them in harms way. Stop-Loss isn't a cry to "cut and run". It's a testament that soldiers will remain honorable no matter how they come home. Something that John McCain might keep in mind
I thought that the set-up was fine. But I am not sure the filmmakers knew where to go with it. Their take on the stop-loss policy is obvious, and it is a message that should be heard. But I think the film would have been more interesting if any character exhibited any real growth during the film. The vets were all depicted as basket cases--the most well-adjusted vet seemed to be the double-amputee--he told us why he would want to go back to Iraq and there was at least some productive purpose that would have been served by his return there.
Perhaps there are soldiers who don't mind being stop-lossed--who truly believe they are accomplishing something positive over there. It would have been refreshing to have a character like that--a non-basket case. It would have been good to hear arguments supporting the stop-loss program (if there are any).
The last 20-30 minutes of this film were baffling. The end of the film (not an ending, just an end) was very unsatisfying.
Ryan Philippe did a competent job, but rarely conveyed anything not apparent from the lines or situation. For example, you could see that a lot of his post-war angst was attributable to guilt. How that tied in with the ending is just a mystery to me.
I recall that a very similar military policy was explored by Joseph Heller in Catch-22. I think a comparison to that novel and film is more apt than comparing this to The Deer Hunter.
I wish this film could have been much better than it was.
1. All soldiers are informed of STOP-LOSS when they enlist. I'm sure most don't think that it will happen to them.
2. P.T.S.D....what some people have called Gulf War syndrome is REAL and is was well done in this movie...yes soldiers may beat a wife, get drunk, and yes take their own life. THIS IS REAL!!! Thank you for not sugar coating this!!!! 3. I was very upset in the women in this movie....kicking your husband out of the house after the stress of war.... then turning around and having the nerve to cry as they lower him into the ground.....then a soon to be wife not being able to wait for her soldier to finish one more tour of duty.....A mother helping a son run from what they both know is a duty that can not be helped...that is what he signed up to do.
4. Was happy to see that one soldier was able to rise up from all of the pain and loss. To become the soldier that he knew he could be....I also felt sorry for him for not having the support that he needed.
5. In real life the AWOL soldier would not have gotten off that easy.....demoted and docked a full months pay.......
THIS MOVIE IS PLAYED OUT IN REAL LIFE EVERY TIME A SOLDIER COMES HOME......YOU NEED TO THANK A VET FOR EVERYTHING THAT THEY DO...BECAUSE IF IT WEREN'T FOR THEM WE WOULDN'T EVEN BE ABLE TO MAKE OR WATCH THE MOVIES THAT WE ALL ENJOY OR VOICE OUR COMMENTS ON.
Does it happen - yes, but not as often as one would think after having watched any of these movies. I think that it is unfortunate that these directors/producers/writers choose to grind their axe against the political establishment by portraying soldiers in such an atypical way. In this particular film, Kimberly Peirce didn't even throw us a bone, like showing the new children that were born while a family member was deployed, or the kid who grew up in some ghetto who can now afford college thanks to the GI Bill, or the couple who can afford a house, or start a new business, earn their citizenship, etc etc etc. Instead, we are treated to the stereotypes because the people who made this film only want to show you the bad side.
A couple of issues with the film itself: 1) somebody screwed up by putting Phillippe in for a Bronze Star with V after he led his squad down a tight alleyway after having been baited by a gunman in a taxi. Pretty stupid, but yes, it happens. 2) the humvees didn't have any turret armor, so we are supposed to believe it is a near the beginning of the war, yet every soldier and their brother has an ACOG and every possible attachment for their M4? sorry, don't think so 3) Timothy Olyphant as a Lieutenant Colonel? It's hard to believe, but I just checked an he turned 40 in May, so the timing isn't too off. 4) He strikes two soldiers to escape being sent to jail after saying that he wouldn't return to Iraq (upon having learned that he had been stop-lossed). So he's a fugitive. Then, when he finally turns himself in at the end, and they take him back, he keeps his rank and deploys with the same unit? Sorry don't think so.
I can only describe it as one giant stereotype of the Army and the Infantry. Do some of the events portrayed in this movie happen to some soldiers, yes. However, in this film you get practically every stereotype in the space of about 100 minutes, and really things just aren't like that for most soldiers returning. I wish the director had made a point of doing a little better research instead of starting off with her agenda and then making a film.
Of the movies I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the best one is probably Lions for Lambs, which is more a commentary on the sad state of Generation Y+ than it is about the Wars in Iraq or Afghanistan or the Bush Administration. If you really want to see this film wait for cable or Netflix it, don't pay cash directly to rent it.
My brother just retired from the Army. He volunteered in Iraq for 1 year. He safely returned home, but his life had changed from that moment he was in Iraq. He said they lost a few young men, and another returned home severely burned from a cocktail thrown into the vehicle. At 130 degrees, how can they keep the windows closed in a military vehicle with the engine off. Two men that died were young (18 and 20). I feel the young soldiers have not received enough training and are too young to deal with the stress of war.
The movie had me thinking about the young men and women that barely have a year of training and next have RPGs hurling at them, roadside bombs, suicidal bombers walking into streets. How can anyone be trained to deal with that and be aware of it before it happens?
I commend the different positions on war in this movie: 1) Soldiers who are willing to die for their families and country. 2) Soldiers who have served their country and feel they should have the choice to step down from their jobs.
Stop-loss was something I never heard of until I saw the movie. How on earth can we say in the United States we have FREEDOM to choose if that privilege is removed when you enlist? It is like when you quit a job, move to another state, join a religion. FREEDOM to Choose! The Stop-Loss sanction nullifies the FREEDOM to step down after serving your country for 1 term or more. Do they think that will encourage people to sign up to serve in the armed forces if the contract removes their basic right of FREEDOM that we all hold so dearly. I was angry to hear soldiers are forced to return to serve multiple times. Many soldiers clearly need to stay home to recover and try to live a normal life instead of sending them back to die. It sounds as if these soldiers are no more than a body with a gun to send back into war.
I would recommend seeing this movie!
Saying all of this, the performances were good for the parts. Some of the dialogue was exceptional (some... it had its moments) and the scenes that actually took place in the war were astounding.
On a last thought, the director made a point of explaining that a lot of the inspiration came from the fact that many soldiers these days video and photograph every aspect of their lives, and edit them together with music and share them with the world--cameras mounted on their cars, guns, etc---and so much of the war footage was displayed this way. Frankly, I was upset more of the film didn't take its inpiration from the same styling.
It has been nearly ten years since Pierce made her fearless directorial debut with BOYS DON'T CRY. It was a commanding assault on the viewer's nerves with each scene building panic and mounting anxiety. You were never given a chance to breathe and the tragic story it told became unforgettable as a result. This is why it is all so strange to see her impose breaks upon the viewer. Not only does it grind the flow to a halt in the dirt but it also exposes the need to repackage the current wave of Iraq war themed films. On the one hand, it makes some sense to cut the film together in an MTV-inspired style to market the war to the generation that is actually fighting it (it should also be noted that the film is MTV produced). On the other hand though, this approach subsequently comes across as a compromised version of Pierce's potential vision. That said, perhaps the new design is necessary in order to get the film's important message across and heard.
The message in this latest condemnation of the Iraq war effort is to bring attention to the "stop-loss" process. The term itself refers to the army's right to force soldiers into another tour of duty at the end of the term they voluntarily signed up for. It is only supposed to be invoked when the war is still ongoing so you can imagine the outrage felt by Brandon King (Phillippe) as he is expecting to be signing his discharge papers and is told instead that he is shipping back to Iraq. Infuriated by his government's backdoor approach to get around the lack of a draft, Brandon goes AWOL in search of a way out. While taking advantage of the soldiers that enlisted freely to fight for their country is appalling enough, it becomes even more so when you see how messed up the returning soldiers have become after balancing being boys and being men in such devastating situations. Pierce's subtle presentation of the young men of Middle America is smart enough not to exaggerate their psychological damage but their table manners speak volumes to make her point. These are men who cannot carry on a conversation without recounting atrocious experiences they suffered through and have no concept of how uncomfortable they are making everyone around them. Another tour of duty could reasonably crush them if it doesn't kill them. With that in mind, Brandon's escape is not just warranted but imperative.
At one point, Brandon makes a homecoming speech to the people of his Texas town. Midway, he is overwhelmed by how much he has been affected by the simple sights and smells of his home and he cannot go on. Everything he was fighting for becomes clear to him but a fellow officer interrupts his speech in favor of a more crowd-rousing message. People don't want to face the reality of the war; they just want to hear that their side is winning. And while Pierce's point is important and still firmly made, it is impossible to feel as if this film that took so many years to make is actually the film she intended and not a film that was designed to profit from a specific market. Still, it is worth applauding for providing a product that will be most enjoyed and appreciated by the demographic that is actually fighting on the front lines as opposed to an older generation that until now has been able to just sit back in the theatre and quietly criticize the war from afar.
Brandon has just come home from Iraq and is just enjoying his Texas life with his best friend, Steve, and his other friends. They're drinking, flirting, and partying. But the war has ultimately gotten to them, they're hallucinating, hitting their wives, and are just going crazy. When Brandon is called for Stop-Loss, where he has to go back to Iraq when he was supposed to stay home, he understandably gets angry and runs for it. He tries to head for the border, but realizes that maybe his team needs him.
Stop Loss is a decent movie and it does have a very powerful message, while I always agree that a war movie is going to be very deep, I think this movie went a little further and could have been lighter, but that's just my opinion, I would have done the story a little different. I also understand Kimberly's message, she meant well with this movie, I think it doesn't work as well as her movie, Boys Don't Cry, but Stop Loss is definitely worth a watch. Ryan Phillipe is becoming a fine actor and holds the film very well, Channing Tatum does alright, enough to keep the film going. The story is a little much, but I think this is one movie you're going to have to judge for yourself.
The paper-thin story sends Phillippe uselessly careening across the U.S. accompanied by his best friend's fiancée, an unconvincing device that accomplishes little. There are also lots of badly executed sequences of these fugitives driving and hiding, not to mention loads of clunky, repetitive dialogue that never gets us to the soul of these men who are supposedly suffering. In an example of unbridled directorial excess, the story even gets broken up several times by jarring, wholly unnecessary 'soldier videos' that supposedly mimic those created by the boots on the ground, but which look more professional than many music videos today and feel really inauthentic. Plus, they yank us out of the story again and again, and after awhile, it's hard to go back into it.
The ending is doubly unsatisfying in that, after forcing these characters to do fairly extreme things that their real-life counterparts would not do, and after making it very clear that we are supposed to be viewing Phillippe as the beleaguered hero on a quest to right a wrong no matter what the consequences, the movie turns on its heels and abandons all that in a flash. The characters and the movie end up where they started, and the audience, who has been shoe-horned into viewing Phillippe's rebellion and journey as something to root for, are abandoned. The director has forced us to slog along on this narrative road for two hours, and as an emotional viewing experience, the ending (even if it is supposed to say something about the inassailability of the military machine) pulls the trap door on us.
The director was present at a Q&A after the film, and she spoke about how she created these characters after talking to a lot of different real-life soldiers back from Iraq & Afghanistan. The film really feels like that -- and not in a good way. It is a patchwork of observations about the shell-shock of returning home without any real commitment to one set of lives. Peirce's "soldiers" are overstuffed amalgams who drink and yell and fight and shoot and even cry, but don't breathe.
**** (out of 4)
Hard hitting, Anti-Iraq film has Ryan Phillippe playing a U.S. soldier who leaves his final mission in Iraq but soon learns he's been stop-lossed, which means the government can break your original contract and send you back to Iraq. Phillippe refuses to go back so he goes AWOL and hits the road with his best friend's girl (Abbie Cornish) while trying to figure out what to do. Over the past few years there have been countless films protesting the Iraq war and all of them have been fair (Lions for Lambs) to really poor (Redacted) but this one here is clearly the best of the bunch but it's also one of the best war movies out there and clearly one of the best of 2008. The movie has a strong stance against the war but it's certainly Pro-Soldier and the film bleeds with love for the young men putting their lives on the line each day. The film opens with a scene in Iraq where the soldiers are working a checkpoint when a group of thugs show up with guns a soon a big battle breaks out and leads to tragedy. I really enjoyed what director Peirce did here by instead of focusing on the violence she clearly wants the viewer to see that these are kids doing this fighting. She makes it clear to us that it's kids doing the shooting and being shot at, which is something people and the media seems to forget. The Anti-Iraq stuff is handled very well and never becomes too preachy unlike many other recent films. I think the film's one problem is that it really should have ran at least an hour longer because the movie not only looks at Phillippe's situation but also two of his friends who are dealing with their own battles on returning home. The film is a lot like The Deer Hunter, a film that took three hours to tell its story, and I think that long running time would have worked well here. The two friends play a major part in the story and an emotional one so I think their stories could have been pushed out a bit further. The performances in the film are all rather remarkable and this is certainly the greatest work I've seen from Phillippe. I don't want to ruin anything but he has to go through all sorts of mental pain in the film and he pulls this off wonderfully well. I think Phillippe has always been a good actor but this film here pushes him to a great one. He really does give a strong, raw and highly emotional performance, which is the heart of the film. Cornish is also very good in her role as is Channing Tatum as the best friend. No matter where you stand on the actual war, that shouldn't keep you away from this film, which is quite original in how it tells its story and most importantly it does pay tribute to these kids who lost their lives on the battle field. This is a very strong and highly emotional film that pushes all the right buttons and really delivers.
Which is what Sergeant Ryan Phillippe, hometown hero from Brazos, Texas who's done his tour of duty and is given the horrible piece of news that he's been ordered for another tour of duty in Iraq. They call it Stop-Loss hence the title of the film.
Phillippe's last action in Iraq involved a nasty urban fire fight where some good friends were killed. He just wants to go back to civilian life and kick back. But the army wants his combat experience.
What to do. Probably if Phillippe came from some liberal blue state he'd find a lot more sympathy in his course of action. But he comes from that reddest of red states, Texas. It's a whole different mindset there and his very upbringing is telling him he's got to shoulder the burden of arms again.
Stop-Loss is a good film from director/writer Kimberly Peirce who brought us Boys Don't Cry. Stop-Loss is not as powerful as Boys Don't Cry still it sends a powerful if conflicted message for the young people today who might just contemplate a military enlistment.
Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are also in the film as Phillippe's fellow soldiers who have differing attitudes towards the army and the Iraq War. Hard to know what is right in a situation like this. Where you're brought up and by who might be the reason you take one course of action as opposed to another.
For what Phillippe does and the rest do, you have to go see Stop-Loss. And this review is dedicated to all of the men and women in arms for the United States of America who carry out our policy and put their bodies and lives on the line for us. If our leaders err and they do many times, no blame should attach to them. They are the most precious resource of the United States of America.