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
"The Men Who Stare at Goats" is a fascinating subject that gets the "Saturday Night Live" treatment. It's all based on fact (from Jon Ronson's book) but the concept is so silly that director Grant Heslov and George Clooney (both worked on "Good Night, and Good Luck) really can't help but make fun of it, and there are some good laughs here. Just no real story.
Ewan McGregor plays journalist Bob Wilton, a jilted husband who goes to war to forget his backstabbing wife only to end up wiling away in Kuwait. One night he meets Lyn Cassidy (George Clooney), a familiar name to him from a previous interview he did years before about psychic-spies. Lyn was the best in what was called the "New Earth Army", started by Vietnam-Vet Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) in the 80's to create soldiers with super-powers who could prevent conflict. The Army was later dismantled and used for evil purposes by the movie's antagonist Hooper (Kevin Spacey) but Lyn tells Bob he's been re-activated, and has a secret mission to do in Iraq. Bob, thinking Lyn crazy but interesting at the same time, decides to team up with him and go where the action is. Along the way, Lyn tells him stories of others dubbed, "Jedi Warriors."
Most of the movie is flashbacks, beginning with Iraq War 2003 and chronicling all the way back to the beginning of New Age warfare. There are weird and crazy laughs to be had like Lyn's initiation, where Django urges him he will never be a soldier unless he can free the dance. The lines are good too. "We tried invisibility but then worked it down to just not being seen", Lyn tells Bob upon their first meeting. Clooney is perfectly eccentric as a guy who lives by the mindfulness-over-warfare principal and McGregor is a whiny, but solid straight-man. Bridges is also terrific as this free-spirited hippie. Only the laughs and flashbacks (which feel like a series of sketches) aren't enough to distract from the fact that "Goats" really has no compelling narrative. The forward-moving story in Iraq 2003 has very little momentum. Spacey appears later on again as the villain but the conflict is weak and the movie has more than over-stayed its welcome.
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