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A war film that aims to be the story of this generation’s war.
That is until he gets his stop-loss notice. Instead of getting to stay home, he finds out that he’s being shipped back to Iraq. Not wanting to go, Brandon starts exercising every option he can think of to get out of it even a road trip to Washington DC to speak with a senator while seeing the after effects of the war on troops and families along the way.
Good and the Bad
The atmosphere in these first moments are very tense and before long, very moving. Until the movie reminds you that it was made by MTV Films by using the exact same style of on screen captioning as they do on the network itself. Despite this, the opening minutes of the film will remain the most powerful all the way through. Much of these early scenes were filmed on hand held cameras. Accomplishing the goal of putting the audience right in the setting from a soldier’s point of view. It is a very real look at Iraq.
All too quickly afterwards, the film shifts to the next primary location in the heart of Texas where Brandon and his friends that served with him are getting their big homecoming. Brandon is set to get out and get married, Tommy wants to be with his wife except she threw him out and Steve can’t seem to adjust to civilian life again. Despite some early problems, things are going well otherwise until Brandon goes to turn in his things and finds out that he has been stop-lossed and ships back out to Iraq at the end of the month.
So far everything seems to be good. The set up to this film has been placed very well with a good location for an emotional drama filled with personal angst. Where men who would never normally share things like feelings, these men will find a bond as brothers in arms to help Brandon fight his fight. It’s rare when someone can sit in front of a movie and actually see the exact moment that a film derails but this film presents that moment with such crystal clarity that everyone will see it: the moment Brandon decides to head to Washington DC to see the senator and his field trips along the way that spotlight some of the effects felt at home from this war.
The film takes on a whole new light as soon as this begins to play. The
pacing is more of an action film. The lighting is much darker and the
scenes that deal with Brandon’s own personal demons have a surreal
feel to them. The only time the film moves back to its slowed down pace
is when the film shifts back to Texas to deal with Tommy and Steve.
In the second extra, a ten minute feature titled ‘A Day In Boot Camp’ features the actors going through an actual five day boot camp to prepare for filming. The boot camp included PT before sunrise, drills, MREs for food (or something resembling food) and real urban training simulations.
Finally there are eleven deleted scenes featuring optional commentary from director Kimberly Pierce. The deleted scenes are very interesting since there were so many options shown on where the story could have gone instead of where it ended up and the added commentary is concise and informative.
Final Grade: C-
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L.B. Bryant is an established reviewer based out of Tacoma, WA. While juggling responsibilities as staff reviewer for almost a half dozen sites, he also reviews anime DVDs at his own site, Otaku Review.
Format: Widescreen, NTSC
Format: DVD MOVIE
Genre: DRAMA/MILITARY & WAR
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