Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lions for Lambs

Photo from
I have to thank whoever had the notion to include this film in the care package for our platoon.  It's very wordy and probably doesn't appeal to most soldiers who use action and comedy movies just to relax here.  The tone reminds me of the best episodes of the West Wing; articulate in-character discussions of important issues.  The characters are grounded with their own motivations, though; all executed with talented performances.  The film is from the same writer who wrote "The Kingdom," which I've heard unfairly called "Syriana for dumb people."  Apples to oranges, really.  The author began thinking he was writing a play, since the sets are very limited and it's almost all dialog.  I think it could succeed as a play, with some changes in presentation.

Spoilers below.
I really enjoyed it, but I have a few issues with the film at are primarily related to the Army portion.  Firstly, the two characters decided to go to infantry OCS after graduating from USC.  Reasonable with their motivations, but then we're just supposed to accept that both of them go through ranger school and are 1st Lieutenants in the same company in the 75th Ranger Regiment?  The senator repeatedly referred to the Rangers as "special forces" which is common for colloquial use, but unlikely for a character with 8 years experience in military intelligence to equivocate the two.  Lastly, I have a serious problem with the fact that one Lieutenant jumped out of the damaged Chinook after his buddy fell out.  Sure following after your best friend was all heroic-looking, but they were officers in charge of the operation. Their platoons and airlift crew had taken many causalities and would be making an emergency landing somewhere other than their intended LZ.  These platoons are now shorthanded and dealing with casualties without either of their officers and perhaps without communication with the command point.  In the DVD commentary, Redford says the Lieutenant acted on instinct to jump out, but I don't think that's good enough.  He jeopardized a lot more lives with that action and was derelict of his duty toward his men and the mission.

Overall, it makes me hope that Redford will eventually be able to follow through with the Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance project mentioned in Lila.  It wouldn't be a blockbuster, but I think he'd give the book the pacing, dignity, and articulation that Pirsig and the book deserve.

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