The day after they get the word they'll go home in two weeks, a group of soldiers from Spokane are ambushed in an Iraqi city. Back stateside we follow four of them - a surgeon who saw too much, a teacher who's a single mom and who lost a hand in the ambush, an infantry man whose best friend died that day, and a soldier who keeps reliving the moment he killed a civilian woman. Each of the four has come home changed, each feels dislocation. Group therapy, V.A. services, halting gestures from family and colleagues, and regular flashbacks keep the war front and center in their minds. They're angry, touchy, and explosive: can a warrior find peace back home? Written by
Home of the Brave Movie Review from MoviePulse.net
Varied messages and skewed perspectives abound in this calamity of Iraqi war aftermath victims. Home of the Brave has good intentions and controversial subject matter, but it doesn't translate into an entertaining bit of cinema. Actors such as Samuel L. Jackson who usually churn out admirable performances are left with nothing to work with due to an obnoxious script and meager supporting characters; asinine dialogue carelessly peppers this defenseless cinematic convoy.
Home of the Brave revolves around four soldiers who return home after a lengthy tour in Iraq. Will Marsh (Samuel L. Jackson) is a medical captain who is haunted by the lost lives he could not save. Vanessa Price (Jessica Biel) is a military cargo driver who loses her hand in a roadside explosion, and must readjust her life around her scathing injury. Tommy Yates (Brian Presley) is a specialist who deals with the torment of watching his childhood friend die in his arms from an Iraqi insurgent, and Jamal Aiken (Curtis Jackson) must cope with the accidental shooting of an Iraqi woman during the firefight that ensues after their convoy is ambushed. All four soldiers crumble under the hardships of adjusting to their old lifestyles and the dour impact the war has caused.
Back in 1946 a little film called The Best Years of Our Lives garnered eight Academy Award nominations and seven wins, including Best Picture and Best Director. Its premise was heartwarming, the acting superb, and the tearjerker moments abundant. War torn veterans return home to discover a changed world that was unsympathetic and ignorant of the atrocities that took place during World War II. Home of the Brave is essentially a remake of that film, replacing WWII with the current Iraqi war. The exception of course, is that Home of the Brave fails to generate even the mildest drama and human emotion evoked from the 1946 classic.
The film begins with predictable action reminiscent of the least impressive scenes from Black Hawk Down. Explosions and gunfire rattle the crumbling walls of the Iraqi city. But poor timing and ill-contrived slow motion shots clutter the already bland action. On top of that, the acting is abhorrent. While Samuel L. Jackson and Brian Presley make a decent attempt, they simply don't have much to work with. Curtis Jackson is horribly miscast; his character is pointless, nonsensical and nearly unintelligible. Biel also hands in an uninspiring role with ludicrous dialogue. Her rubbery hand prosthetics are continuously used in unintentionally hilarious scenes with laughable quips which further mock her handicap and the seriousness of losing limbs. Understanding and connection with the characters is never established and therefore the audience is left questioning how they should feel about the situations depicted.
The major political themes in the film are also ambiguous and conflicting at times. Marsh defends his son's anti-war mindset even though he willingly participated and supported the war. Nearly the entire film shows the negative aspects of war and the uncompromising and depressing inner conflicts each character suffers with. And yet at the conclusion the mood abruptly circles toward support of the war and those who can no longer live without the pressing sense of camaraderie. Yates is so distraught and uncomfortable in adapting himself into his previous lifestyle that his only choice is to go back to the harsh conflicts in Iraq where he understands the soldiers and their need to fight for what they believe in. Why push the negative outlook, only to resolve with Yates' unexplainable drive to reenlist? Is the film defending the war or criticizing it? Apparently it doesn't know.
While veterans and those familiar with the crippling aspects of combat may relate to the characters or situations, unfortunately, like the families of soldiers who stay behind and maintain their normal lives, general audiences won't find anything fulfilling or noteworthy about this movie. The pilfered plot from a far superior film, the absurd dialogue and the mediocre acting all contribute to a generic war film that will certainly be passed up as soon as its one week theatrical run deceases.
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