Lions for Lambs – the Movie

Directed by Robert Redford, this movie is about Bush’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a tour de force of three dialogs, seemingly unrelated, about the same subject, from three different angles. There is little else going on in this movie but dialog and some stilted war action.

The cast is strong, led by Robert Redford, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep. All three play roles that we are accustomed to from them, with Cruise playing an egotistical U.S. Senator with his eyes on the White House, Streep a smart and idealistic journalist, and Redford a college professor with his head stuck deep in the clouds of the ivory towers around him.

A good third of the movie is dialog between the senator and the journalist, another third between the professor and a jaded student, and the final third about two hapless soldiers wrecked high in the mountains in Afghanistan, with the Taliban fighters closing in on them from all sides.

The senator and the professor talking away about ideals and strategy, safe in their respective offices, while the journalist and the student have to listen to their bullshit. All the while, presumably at the exact same time, the two soldiers are stuck, both severely injured from falling out of a helicopter into the snowcovered mountains, are living or dying as the point-men pushed out there by the senator and the professor.

It’s easy to make “tough” decisions if you are Bush or Rumsfeld and you’re sitting safe in the White House or the Pentagon. It’s another thing if you’re on the receiving end of those decisions inside a helicopter under fire.

The movie succeeded in making me pissed off anew about the loftiness and the cowardice of the high and mighty, on the backs of thousands of grunts. It succeeded in reinforcing again in a graphic way that war sucks, the way our political machine makes decisions sucks, and how our culture creates peer pressure to get smart and dumb young men and women to sign up to fight for their country, so they feel good to be presented as sacrificial lambs by the lions, to the hyenas.

Lions for Lambs sends that message.

Did I like the movie? Not really. Did it make me think? You bet. Did it make me think about anything I haven’t already thought about? No. Does it have a message more worthwhile than 90% of the movies out  there right now? By all means, yes.

Rating: **

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