19-year-old Billy Lynn is brought home for a victory tour after a harrowing Iraq battle. Through flashbacks the film shows what really happened to his squad - contrasting the realities of war with America's perceptions.
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Two-time Academy Award® winner Ang Lee brings his extraordinary vision to Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, based on the widely-acclaimed, bestselling novel. The film is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing Iraq battle and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. Through flashbacks, culminating at the spectacular halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game, the film reveals what really happened to the squad - contrasting the realities of the war with America's perceptions. The film also stars Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, with Vin Diesel, and Steve Martin. Lee used new technology, shooting at an ultra-high frame rate for the first time in film history, to create an immersive digital experience helping him dramatize war in a way never seen before. Lee directed and produced the film, from a screenplay by Jean-Christophe ... Written by
Sony Pictures Entertainment
The idea of shooting in 120fps along with native 4k rendering and mastering, came from an experimental film shot by Douglas Trumbull (2001 fame). Trumbull showcased his work to Ang Lee, who came back to Trumbull's private theatre for repeat viewings including his family and eventually Sony executives, who put the film into production. See more »
US Army squads are not designated with letters, they are numbered based on their respective platoon and company's table of organization (so many squads to a platoon, so many platoons to a company, companies to a battalion, battalions to a brigade, brigades to a division). Platoons are numbered in the same manner, respective to their company. A company may be designated with a letter (in the cases of companies that do not deploy except as part of their parent battalion) or with a number (in the cases of "modular" companies that may deploy separately from their parent battalion and placed under the control of a "modular" battalion headquarters when they arrive in theater). Billy's squad would be correctly designated as the 2nd Squad, (numbered) Platoon, (lettered) Company, (numbered) Battalion, (numbered) Brigade of the (numbered) Division. Since this designation is fairly complicated for non-military personnel, Billy and his squad mates would most likely be recognized as Soldiers from the same Division (since they would all wear that Division's patch), without mention of their specific unit within the Division.
The reasoning for Billy's squad being called "Bravo Squad" is explained in the book as being a result of incorrect reporting when the video footage of their battle was aired on the news. See more »
Your story Billy, no longer belongs to you. It's America story now.
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Despite Ang Lee's greatest efforts, this film just can't rise above being more than a gimmick.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk gives us the workings of cinema master Ang Lee in this boisterous, ballsy film that wishes it was better than what it is. The film tells the story of a hero solider who returns home to be on display at a Super Bowl Halftime show, as he is about to make his long walk, he is plagued with bouts of PTSD that force him to recount exactly what happened to him. The film's concept is great, there's no denying that. This could have easily been a straight forward drama without all the technicalities that Ang Lee put into it. Yes, 120fps makes it VERY easy to look at but outside of that, the substance to make have some sustainability is just not there.
The film takes us on the journey of Billy Lynn from home, from the battlefield, from the halftime show. While we always know where Billy Lynn is coming from, we don't know where he is going. Lee creates a beautiful image but lacks developing any sort of meaningful relationship with Billy Lynn. Despite a strong performance from newcomer Joe Alwyn along with the rest of the cast, there's nothing really substantial here. The supporting cast featuring Garrett Hedlund, Kristin Stewart and Vin Diesel are all stellar in their own rights but without a well told story backing them up, their efforts feel useless.
Overall, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is beautiful to look at and definitely keeps in line with Ang Lee's Life of Pi more so than with any of his other films but what Life of Pi had in the way of story, this film lacks every step of the way. We know we're supposed to care about these characters, we are just not given a good enough reason to. If you're a fan of Ang Lee or cutting edge cinematography, definitely give this a watch. Outside of those two qualities, it's a film that is hard to recommend.
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