28 February 2017 | gradyharp
'The bullet's already been fired'
Ben Johnson's novel has been exceptionally well adapted for the screen by Jean- Christophe Castelli and directed with the expected sensitivity of Ang Lee. It is a kick in the gut for those who see it – an anti-war statement placed in front of us as the never- ending wars in the Middle East continue to fester and destroy lives on all sides of the war zone and beyond. But it is also a biting statement about the time in which we live, a time when entertainment and gross spending of money is directed toward the insatiable appetite for big shows and stars and shallow moments of pleasure that appear to obsess us. The manner in which returning soldiers face 'instant glory' is overshadowed by the inherent bully-ism by a public that does not understand the cancer of war and how it metastasizes throughout our troubled planet.
The film is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad (Garrett Hedlund, Arturo Castro, Mason Lee, Astro, Beau Knapp, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Barney Harris and Vin Diesel) becomes a hero after a harrowing Iraq battle and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. Through flashbacks, culminating at the spectacular halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game in Dallas, Texas, the film reveals what really happened to the squad - contrasting the realities of the war with America's perceptions. Billy's family's response to his Silver Star heroism is conflicted with Billy's damaged sister Kathryn (Kristen Stewart) who pleads with Billy not to return for another tour in Iraq. Billy finds a possible entry to fame through a film about Bravo by Albert (Chris Tucker), thwarted by the wealthy insensitive would-be backer Norm (Steve Martin), an introduction to love by one of the Dallas cheerleaders Faison (Makenzie Leigh), and in the end, though disenchanted with America's reaction to what soldiers suffer in war zones, Billy makes the 'long halftime walk' back to his beloved buddies of Bravo as they prepare to return to duty.
The film seems all glitter on the surface until the inserted flashbacks of the realities of war in Iraq – a factor that makes the film even more poignant as an anti-war statement. This is a strong film that will move sensitive viewers – hopefully to action.