Three stories told simultaneous in ninety minutes of real time: a Republican Senator who's a presidential hopeful gives an hour-long interview to a skeptical television reporter, detailing a strategy for victory in Afghanistan; two special forces ambushed on an Afghani ridge await rescue as Taliban forces close in; a poli-sci professor at a California college invites a promising student to re-engage. Decisions press upon the reporter, the student, and the soldiers. Written by
Lions for Lambs is a current issue film that deals with several relevant topics. The central plot revolves around essentially three settings that don't directly affect each other through action. They do however affect each other through course of action presented in debate. Cruise plays Jasper Irving, a GOP senator with a new plan of action for the war on terror. Streep is a veteran reporter who is interviewing him. Simultaneously, Redford is a college professor who has called a student into his office. A conflict in Afghanistan is taking place which is linked to the aforementioned plot lines.
Lions for Lambs surprised me with it's balance. I'm an open Republican, and felt that this movie was not a cliché attack against the power that be. The Cruise character could have been given irrefutable hatred material. He could have been caught in a scandal. He could have alienated others with religious furor. Instead he is real and forms educated arguments. He seems rational, and passionate; he can also make a turn to present himself to the public. I don't see this as an attack, but one of the many skills politicians need to succeed. With all they go through and the decisions they have, they don't want the mocking that crying before the camera would carry. The left is represented by Redford's professor and Streep's reporter. Both are treated with rationale conviction. Neither has a clear anti-GOP agenda. Both of these characters even go as far as to acknowledge the error in the ways of their side. If there is a message to the film, it is that we are being sheltered from reality. It was clear to this viewer that Redford is stating that we are placing focus on the minuscule while matters of true importance are treated as second rate. Surely this is something we all can agree on in Lions for Lambs and this comes into fruition as the film evolves.
Aside from the political commentary, which it makes no dance around, this a dialog heavy film. Characters are pinned against their situations which cause them to restrain from a course of action both physically and metaphorically. The conversations are engaging, but it would be arguably more favorable to allow the characters interaction. A few additional technical merits could have gone a long way. For example, the CGI of the Chinook helicopter was not up to par; a memorable score and unique cinematography are also absent. The screenplay is inherently foiled by remarkable coincidence; but there was no way around that. At a scant 88 minutes, Lions for Lambs is quick to get to the point but it is over too fast. These miscues keep it from perfection. Served as they are, Lions for Lambs is thinking person's film that comes highly recommended.
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