The trailer for the new Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep political commentary film Lions for Lambs shows a whole lot of nothing-a professor talking about ethics and previous students; a senator explaining a hokey new military plan for solving the current issues in the Middle East to a well-known journalist; and a couple of soldiers who are stranded in enemy territory. See the trailer, and you’ve seen the whole movie.
With the exception of a few flashbacks, Lions for Lambs takes place in real time-the professor (Redford) giving a moral lecture on the west coast, the senator (Cruise) with the journalist (Streep) on the east coast, and the screwed soldiers in the mountains of Afghanistan.
As the senator is revealing his new tactics, the program for reducing the American lives lost and ending our engagement in the Middle East is initiated with the oxymoronic story of the two soldiers who just so happen to survive falling hundreds of feet out of a chopper. As this happens, the professor lectures a slacking student who shows hopes of being something great about making your actions match you beliefs. He teaches with the example of two young hopeful students who enrolled in the military to prove this same point to people, who end up being the two stranded in Afghanistan.
The purpose of the movie is nothing new. The relatively short movie feels excessively long as it repeatedly beats you over the head with moral after moral after moral. Lions for Lambs might be worth it if it wasn’t just a recap of the last seven years worth of news. Tell us something we don’t already know.
The scenes with Cruise and Streep are ridiculous and unbelievable. If their goal with those scenes was to preach a message, then they’re preaching to the wrong audience. It’s meant for politicians. Cruise basically plays George W. and Streep plays a shallow character that you couldn’t care less about.
The scenes with the two soldiers feel like a super low budget rip of Owen Wilson’s Behind Enemy Lines. It looks like they used a snowy set from Narnia. And what are the chances of two buddies enlisting together and ending up in some elite team together? Come on.
But there is one redeeming part of this movie-the professor and pupil. The ethical points are very interesting and thought provoking. The dynamic between the two keeps your attention to the point that you actually care about what they’re saying, even if you don’t agree with the movie.
If this movie is a lion in lamb’s clothes, then it’s not a very ferocious lion. It’s not going to do any damage or scare anybody. It’s a sickly lion that’s only going to be torn up for trying to play with the big dogs. It’s going to be ripped to shreds for bringing back leftovers. Lions for Lambs serves up nothing new.
Photo credit: United Artists
Cutline: Senator Jasper Irving equals Tom Cruise’s version of George W. minus the crazy