A general from the U.S. is sent to Afghanistan to "clean" the situation up after eight years of war in the country. He finds himself among tired soldiers and disillusioned politicians eager to leave. In this situation, he feels his mission is to "win" the war, something deemed impossible by everyone around him.Written by
The character Frank Groom (the British officer played by Rufus Wright) was named after Michael Groom - David Michôd's assistant on War Machine and The King (2019). See more »
President Hamid Karzai's name is mispronounced by Ben Kingsley who is playing him. Should be Haamed not Hameed which is a different name even though both names are transcribed in the same way as Hamid from Pashto they are written differently in Arabic. See more »
Ah, America. You beacon of composure and proportionate response, you bringer of calm and goodness to the world... What do you do when the war you're fighting just can't possibly be won in any meaningful sense? Well, obviously, you sack the guy not winning it and you bring in some other guy. In 2009, that war was Afghanistan, and that other guy... was Glen.
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Gen. Glen McMahon (Brad Pitt) is no non-sense soldier. He lives a Spartan life often away from his family. He and his team such as the always shouting Greg Pulver (Anthony Michael Hall) are called in to cleanup the Afganistan quagmire. He is told to push the needle and not request for more troops. Instead, he is driven to win and sees his way where everyone else has failed. He uses any means to get his way while not getting his meeting with Obama. He finds President Karzai (Ben Kingsley), an isolated corrupt leader. Media consultant Matt Little (Topher Grace) suggests getting him an article in Rolling Stones.
This dark comedy is too real to be funny. If Strangelove actually happened, the absurd movie would be less fun. One is always reminded that real people died here and there because the character of McMahon is based on a real person. While there are interesting bits, the general sense of this movie is one of tired resignation.
I don't know if it's the Rolling Stones reporter but I'm reminded of Almost Famous. In that movie, the reporter is the protagonist and he's the eyes with which the audience sees the story. The rock star is a subject who is slowly revealed. In this movie, we are given only the narration of reporter Sean Cullen for the most part. He shows up for a limited role later in the movie. McMahon is the protagonist and we're stuck with him for good and for ill.
Of all the characters, the most compelling is the 'confused' Marine Cpl. Billy Cole. His first scene with McMahon is devastating. His face is haunting. What he says resonates more than any other character. In the end, he is a minor character. His other scene is another compelling sequence as his squad goes into a hostile town. Again he is more compelling than anyone else and it is emotionally draining. This movie could have been great but McMahon can't be the protagonist. He is an absurd side character like Karzai in this movie.
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