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Lions for Lambs
Come for the movie, stay for the Bush bashing.
Lions for Lambs
Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep Star in "Lions for Lambs."
OPENING WEEKEND: $18,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $38,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

July 16th, 2007: Directed by Academy Award winner Robert Redford, the story begins after two determined students at a West Coast University, Arian (Derek Luke) and Ernest (Michael Pena), follow the inspiration of their idealistic professor, Dr. Malley (Redford), and attempt to do something important with their lives. But when the two make the bold decision to join the battle in Afghanistan, Malley is both moved and distraught. Now, as Arian and Ernest fight for survival in the field, they become the string that binds together two disparate stories on opposite sides of America. In California, an anguished Dr. Malley attempts to reach a privileged but disaffected student (Andrew Garfield) who is the very opposite of Arian and Ernest. Meanwhile, in Washington D.C. the charismatic Presidential hopeful, Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise), is about to give a bombshell story to a probing TV journalist (Meryl Streep) that may affect Arian and Ernest's fates. As arguments, memories and bullets fly, the three stories are woven ever more tightly together, revealing how each of these Americans has a profound impact.

What to Expect: Any good PR man in Hollywood will tell you that the number one rule of celebrity is to not discuss religion and politics publicly, because you never want to alienate any potential fans who do not agree with your views on the respective subject. Well, I guess Tom Cruise and Robert Redford did not heed these warnings and suffered the consequences. In 2004 Redford, who was a vocal critic of the Bush administration and their "War on Terror," actually threatened to move to Canada if Bush was re-elected. Well Bush, for better or worse, was re-elected and many expected Redford to jump on a celebrity-full Dixie Chicks drawn wagon and head north. Well that did not happen, instead he has not worked in Hollywood since. Tom Cruise on the other hand avoided politics entirely. He chose the career poison of religion, ranting to anyone who will listen, and most who won't, on the virtues of Scientology and his extremely high Thetan levels. Cruise's religious rants and antics became so strange that he was even fired from Paramount, a company he had worked with for fourteen years. Despite these setbacks, Cruise did not stay unemployed long and was hired to run the defunct United Artists branch of MGM with his business partner Paula Wagner. The first movie they chose to develop was a little known script Lions for Lambs by first time screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan with Redford directing. So now we have politically defeated Redford directing, fallen from grace Cruise, a first timer writing and a production company desperately needing a boost; talk about pressure.

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To compound Cruise's and Redford's collective problems, they did not pick an easy movie to resurrect their careers with. Lions for Lambs is an extremely disheartening movie that does not hide its disdain for the wars America is currently waging and the politicians that started and mismanaged these wars. In fact, the title itself is a stab at the administration. "Lions" are the great young American soldiers who are sent to die by the "Lambs" who are the politicians and generals who have never seen combat and cannot appreciate the great sacrifice the "Lions" are making. The three parallel story lines serve to drive this point home. The first tells the story of Arian and Ernest who are sent to a forward operations base in Afghanistan and are wounded and pinned down by a numerically superior force of Afghani militants. The second story is of their former professor lauding their courage and commitment to a less dedicated student who is corrupted by the leisure and wealth of his upbringing. The third is of the senator trying to sell the "tactical shift" of the forward operations to a very skeptical reporter who believes these soldiers are nothing more then bait. The three stories together paint a very bleak picture of noble, brave Americans going out and dying for what they believe in. Meanwhile, the rest of us obese Americans live in complete apathy, more concerned about the latest celebrity gossip than the suffering around us.

Based on this movie's extreme anti-war message, it is no surprise that Robert Redford jumped on this movie with such great fervor considering his earlier political outburst. It is almost like he has been sitting and waiting for four years to come across a project like this. This will be a labor of love for him. He will commit all his talent in directing and acting in this movie. What is a lot more interesting is the fact that Matthew Carnahan wrote and is producing Lambs which presents the exact opposite point of his other screenplay The Kingdom. It is very strange that the same person who in Lambs labels this as "one of the top five sh*ttiest times to be an American" and openly compares the "War on Terror" and its rationalizations to Vietnam could defend the very same war with the same passion in Kingdom, which is directed by Peter Berg. Interestingly enough, Berg actually has a role in Lambs as one of the soldiers in Arian's and Ernest's platoon. Yet, I do not think that Carnahan and Berg are just playing both sides in this or trying to capitalize on the times. I think they are making a statement here that the war in Iraq is costly and based on faulty intelligence, yet there are real dangers out there in the world, and we cannot turn our backs on them. Arian puts it best in the first draft of the screenplay when he says, "The best way to double a problem is to turn your back on it." Carnahan and Berg do not try to advocate any kind of solution to the quagmire of Iraq in either of these movies; they simply try to bring both sides to light.

The one thing I am really disappointed about is the involvement of Tom Cruise. First of all, the original script was written for the senator to be of African American decent. I really got the impression that the character was supposed to be loosely based on Colin Powell. Do not worry; I am not making this comparison strictly based on race. The senator, like Powell, was of military background, extremely popular before the war, became the mouth piece for the war, and eventually lost a lot of his political popularity because of the war. Well, now that senator is going to be played by Tom Cruise, enough said. What is even funnier is that the original script actually had the senator make a sarcastic joke about TomKat. I really hope they leave it in, but I doubt it. I also hope that Cruise does not try to stick his own politics of Scientology into an already extremely political movie. Any more politics and this thing is going to blow up in everyone's faces, and Cruise, Redford and UA just can't afford a major bust as their resurrection movie.

In Conclusion: This movie does not aim to solve America's problems, but simply bring them to light. I am sure that many people who are extremely opposed to the war and the current administration are going to run out and watch this in order to strengthen their own beliefs. Well, this movie is not meant to preach to the choir, it is meant to challenge the choir. If you are looking for a well written, challenging political movie then this is the one for you. In fact, if that is your cup of tea, then go see The Kingdom and Lambs with your two most oppositely, politically polarized friends and then watch the argument that ensues. That's what these movies are for! Enjoy! I am personally tired of all this intrigue and going to do what most "obese, lazy Americans" are doing and skip Lambs so that I have more time to catch up on what Paris Hilton did that day.

Similar Titles: Babel, The Kingdom, Full Metal Jacket, Jarhead
November 9th, 2007 (wide)
April 8th, 2008 (DVD)


Robert Redford

Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Michael Pena, Derek Luke, Andrew Garfield, Peter Berg

Total: 89 vote(s).


Click here to view site

Rated R for some war violence and language.

92 min





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