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.
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
Norm Pendleton shoots at his fellow soldiers on the courtyard at Ft. Bragg. After each shot, a shell casing drops on the tarmac. During the last shot, Norm stands on a grass patch, where the falling casing would not make a sound. 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 »
It's worth mentioning, too, that, like McGregor, another actor has been doing some good, different, and mostly unsung work lately. After voicing Gerty the robot in Moon and making an unexpectedly amusing cameo in the Britflick Telstar, Kevin Spacey is just terrific as Larry Hooper, the cynical Darth Vader to Django's Luke Skywalker. And when Bridges, Clooney and Spacey are all on screen, The Men Who Stare At Goats feels most alive — like a military version of Anchorman, with a more subtle sense of stupidity — while Heslov's bright, heightened colour palette adds the sense of an almost magical, distant summer. Such moments are as close as the film gets to a point — like the custard-pie fight that was cut from Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, this is a black comedy about national security, and the ridiculous demands that paranoia will feed.
Despite its myriad minor pleasures, however, Heslov's film is the perfect showcase for the things Clooney does best. Arguably, this is his best comedy performance since O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and it certainly comes from the same stable. Like O Brother's Everett McGill, Lyn Cassady is a bit of a Dapper Dan, frequently in a tight spot. But where McGill was a likable fool, Cassady is more complex; like a Woody Allen superhero, he's a mixture of the daft and the divine, and the fact that his psychic powers do often come to the fore gives this material a weird, old-fashioned Saturday Morning Serial flavor, and this is what the film relies on for the final act. Just as Superman came flying down to save the maiden tied to the train tracks, we find ourselves waiting for Cassady to swoop down and tie up all those tantalising loose ends.
Though Heslov and writer Peter Straughan try their best, however, there just isn't a satisfactory end to this movie to be found, and the one they've come up with — as enjoyable as it is — is not only underwhelming, it feels like an obvious redeployment of everything we've seen, with a little sprinkling of sentiment that, though tongue-in-cheek, doesn't feel right. For the most part, though, The Men Who Stare At Goats, like Inglourious Basterds before it, marks a return to the long-lost idea that there ought to be some fun in movies, and it's a testament to George Clooney's willingness to experiment that, at a time when he really ought to be prepping for his next Oscar, he's up for a laugh and happy to share the fantastic time he's having. Will it be a big hit? It's doubtful. But even if it flops, Clooney won't be slipping to the number three slot anytime soon.
All in all, very much worth watching. Very underrated movie. 8/10
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