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
This review of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is spoiler free
ANG LEE IS one of those filmmakers who can make films from even the simplest of subjects, such as, a couple of homosexual cowboys (Brokeback Mountain), or a young man surviving on a rowboat with a fully-grown Bengal tiger (Life of Pi), that then become awards gold. This over the last decade made him one of the most watched directors of all time - you'd think that crafting a film from one of Ben Fountain's award winning novels would be easy for a veteran director. Unfortunately as ambitious as it is, being shot in 3D with a rate of 120fps (five times higher than the average frame rate) a lot higher than The Hobbit's 48fps, that's one of the problems it's ludicrously fast. The adaptation already has a big problem.
The story focuses on the life of 19-year-old Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) it's told in the form of a first person perspective, he has just come home from the brutal combat in Iraq with Team Bravo who have a tour of the United States ending at Dallas' football stadium where they will be presented as heroes in front of a huge crowd. Naturally, Lee keeps us waiting for the walk across the pitch at the spectacular halftime show; while we wait there are a series of rich flashbacks telling the tragic memories of this young man fighting in Iraq with his regiment in each of these flashbacks and there are a lot of them we witness how the fight changed him. Everyone is worried about him, not just his comrades but his family too, his sister (Stewart) thinks that he might be suffering from PTSD perhaps he may flip at any moment.
Though the main problem isn't the quality of the film because whenever Lee finishes a film it will always have his sticker of approval wrapped all over it, it's the content that's the main problem, there is either a lot of if or barely any there is no middle ground the film loses its footing at the start, but as the story goes on it never really finds it's footing again. Not only that, it's almost too hard to focus on just one thing whether we go from Billy having a meeting in the stadium's conference room, through talking to the sergeant of his regiment (Vin Diesel in a wasted role), to him fighting some of the Iraqi soldiers sure, it's an engaging war film for the most part but then we are transported back to the stadium. The problems mount up and at 120fps the problems are noticeable. It's ambitious, granted, but not needed in a film like this.
Towards the end as we walk alongside Billy toward the halftime podium, it's here when he will get to stand on stage and do nothing at all no matter what is going on. It's also here when the film will seek sentimentality, by a final flashback where they have to fight back. But sentimentality has to be earned and it isn't earned here. Sure enough Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a harrowing war film in some moments but it's horribly bombarded by modernity of the camera-work with the confusing story, there is perhaps a better film somewhere in the editing room because it certainly isn't here.
VERDICT: A clunky war film with ill-managed modernity a confusing plot that never really finds its footing along with some shaky camera-work that can't dazzle over its poorly executed story. It's a rare misstep for the Oscar winning director.
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