A reporter in Iraq might just have the story of a lifetime when he meets Lyn Cassady, a guy who claims to be a former member of the U.S. Army's New Earth Army, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions.
With a job traveling around the country firing people, Ryan Bingham enjoys his life living out of a suitcase, but finds that lifestyle threatened by the presence of a new hire and a potential love interest.
A reporter, trying to lose himself in the romance of war after his marriage fails, gets more than he bargains for when he meets a special forces agent who reveals the existence of a secret, psychic military unit whose goal is to end war as we know it. The founder of the unit has gone missing and the trail leads to another psychic soldier who has distorted the mission to serve his own ends. Written by
Jeff Bridges' character Bill Django is, in fact, based on Army Lt. Colonel Jim Channon, who wrote the First Earth Battalion field manual (which is shown in the film). Just like Django, Channon took a leave of absence (with pay) from the Army to go on a fact-finding tour of the New Age Movement in the mid-1970s before coming back and writing the First Earth Battalion manual. The movie, based on the book by Jon Ronson, combines two or three separate programs - the Army's Remote Viewing program (run by the Army's Intelligence and Security Command), the "Jedi" program run by the Special Forces, and Jim Channon's First Earth Battalion (which was a concept and a field manual rather than an operational unit). See more »
The first time we see Brigadier General Dean Hopgood his uniform shows two stars indicating a Major General when he is supposed to be a Brigadier General (one star). See more »
Although this film is inspired by John Ronson's Book The Men Who Stare At Goats, it is a fiction, and while the characters Lynn Cassady and Bill Django are based on actual persons, Sergeant Glenn Wheaton and Colonel Jim Channon, all other characters are invented or are composites and are not portrayals of actual persons. The filmmakers ask that no one attempt walking through walls, cloudbursting while driving, or staring for hours at goats with the intent of harming them... invisibility is fine. See more »
While doing his boring job as a reporter-journalist, one man stumbles upon the existence of an old military secret: a branch of soldiers trained in harnessing their mental superpowers. Coincidentally, after heading off to Iraq for an inside scoop on the 2003 war, he meets another member of this secret group and his misadventures begin.
There's some weird obsession with "Star Wars" in this film. Besides the obvious talk of Jedi Warriors, there's a scene early on where the main character makes a reference to blonde farm boy, which is clearly meant to be Luke Skywalker. (What's interesting is that later the guy claims to have not seen the movies, so it's odd that he would make cryptic references.)
I cannot say enough about the amazing cast. Ewan MacGregor, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges and George Clooney, among others. The most disappointing thing about this film is that with such an amazing cast that you would think this would be the year's blockbuster, but actually will more than likely be no more than a blip on the cinematic radar.
I don't know what's up with Roger Ebert and his Lebowski obsession. In his review, he repeatedly says that Lebowski fans will like this one and that Jeff Bridges plays his role as Lebowski playing a military man. Well, I could see some Lebowski in there, and like that other film, they both involve Iraq. But, really, I see Lebowski when I see Jeff Bridges, so that's not really a stretch. Ebert really took it beyond the necessarily bounds.
Ultimately, the film comes up short. With this cast, as I said, I expect something more. There is humor, but it's here and there. And even the plot, which is interesting, doesn't really seem to be as strong as it should be. A good film, and one I recommend to George Clooney fans, but not a hidden treasure.
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