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.
2-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 view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who, along with fellow soldiers, is hailed as a 'hero' after a harrowing Iraq battle. He'is brought home for a victory tour. Through flashbacks, 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.Written by
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Technically ambitious and breathtaking, but lacking in substance
The moment the audience saw the first shot of Billy Lynn reaching for his phone, the audience gasped. Ang Lee's ambitious choice of filming at a frame rate of 120fps in a 4K and 3D format is beyond words. We become immersed into Billy Lynn's world, seeing the little details that we normally would not see in a film (imagine what Emmanuel Lubezki did in 'The Revenant' and times it by 5). The person I went with to see the film described it best, it was a very sensual experience not just from the cinematography, but also the interesting soundscape and phenomenal editing. There are small moments when what would be a mundane action becomes a trigger for Billy Lynn and his squad. Lee does not hold back in making the audience feel the PTSD of those soldiers which at times is beautiful done as well as a bit too much for those of us who have never experienced it. Now I could go on about how brilliant the film is technically and it's sure to get some Oscar recognition in that aspect, but all films revolve around a story.
What could have been an amazing film merely becomes an OK film because of the story's weakness. I read an article where the critic trashed Ang Lee, but to be honest it's not Lee who's to blame but whoever wrote the script. The script is so dull and because of that the audience never got the full immersion we were hoping to get. The only person we connect to by the end of the film is Kristen Stewart's character, yet that isn't even delved into. The relationships between the characters aren't developed very much except for one relationship that is developed WAY too fast and in the most unrealistic way possible. You can get a sense of a strong bond between Lynn and his squad, but just barely.
As for the acting, Kristen Stewart was definitely the standout. Joe Alwyn did a great job, too, but not the memorable debut performance I was hoping to see. Vin Diesel and Steve Martin are truly miscast (this may just be me being picky, but every time they came on screen I felt very uncomfortable).
To sum this up, I'm giving this movie a 7 out of 10 because of the technical brilliance and the experience of watching a film in this frame rate, though be warned that the story is very weak. Some people are going to find the 120fps very strange, but for the cinephiles who have an open mind, you'll be blown away.
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