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 »
In the LSD scene at the end of the film, troops are seen driving an armored personnel carrier around. The vehicle is a FV432 which is a British Army vehicle and has never been used by the American army. See more »
A great way to spend a lazy afternoon with a couple of mates
I'm going to say its definitely up there in the top few films I've seen at the cinema this year. It has been criticised for lacking more biting criticism of the US government, but I think people who are saying that are missing the point. It does have a fair bit to say about how stupid the US Military can be and how they like to blow money on obviously pointless ventures, but there is a whole other side to it.
I thought that the film was more about the human spirit and how that if you want to make a difference and want to do something you've got to really go for it no matter how stupid the aim. Obviously the idea of trying to be a psychic spy is unattainable and may sound ludicrous, but so may be the notion of trying to create world peace and help bring different people together over a united cause. The film was more about how these drifters and lost souls managed to find something that they found worthy of pursuing and really devoted themselves to it, and I think this message is more admirable than any side-criticism of the USA.
The film plays out mainly as a buddy movie with Geogre Clooney, who is doing his usual comic act very well, and Ewan McGregor as they head around Iraq not really knowing what they are looking for and getting into loads of hilarious antics along the way. I don't think I've laughed so much in the cinema this year, and the whole audience was laughing along as well.
I thought the structure was hardly groundbreaking, but done really well. Flashbacks involving Jeff Bridges and Clooney help add comic relief during some of the straighter scenes in the film and also at times are used to rack up the tension and reveal interesting insights. It is of course up to your interpretation if the flashbacks are 100% real, because they are told from the point of view of Ewan McGregor, recounting stories that were told to him by Clooney. This sorts out another common criticism that the film is extremely unrealistic, but there are some key scenes saying that Clooney might not be telling the whole truth that I feel have been overlooked.
It isn't going to be Oscar-fare or the greatest thing you'll ever see but with a good cast and a lot of laughs there isn't really going to be a much better way of spending a lazy Saturday afternoon with some popcorn and a buddy or two.
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