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Apr 8, 2008

Fletch's Film Review: Stop-Loss

Chances are good that you're not looking for any more Iraq War-themed films, but if you were to look for one that pretty adequately sums up my feelings on the conflict, while still not being a great film, this might be the one.

Unlike In the Valley of Elah, which had a firm, unmissable message, Stop-Loss is a bit all over the place. It knows one thing for sure - being stop-lossed sucks - but can't seem to make up its mind (or really even come to any conclusions) in regards to the hows, whys, and shoulds of the ongoing conflict.

Ryan Phillippe plays Brandon King, a soldier that, soon after being engaged in a deadly conflict that he led, is sent home to Texas, as his duty is complete. But of course we know that that isn't the case, as he will be called back by Uncle Sam in an effort to keep the area staffed with soldiers.

The thing is, he wants no part of going back. He's seen enough, he knows his life is at risk, and he just wants to stay put in America. Instincts take over and soon enough the film almost turns into a chase flick, with Brandon dragging his best friend's girlfriend across the country in an effort to talk to a friendly higher-up.

But all that is window-dressing for the real conflicts - the one between his ears, the ones between he and his friends (who range from true-blue to truly out of it), and the ones between he and his family. Flee his country forever in the hopes of saving his skin, or serve his (additional) duty to remain "American."

If the movie feels like a letdown, it's probably due to two main reasons. First, the oft-mentioned spamming of Iraq War movies that have been released over the past five years can't help but make the film seem like ground already covered (even if it hasn't been). Second, after the powerful Boys Don't Cry, and the subsequent nine year gap between films, Stop-Loss just can't possibly attain the same emotional impact as its predecessor. Had this been made by an unknown, perhaps the reception (by myself and others) might have been different. That may be unfair, but so is being stop-lossed.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

3 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Stop-Loss"

Anonymous said...

Very nice review indeed. I have not actually seen the film yet but I am optimistic, I think I am close to the target audience and I am not over the Iraq-war themed films, only if they are done well. I am hopeful.

Daniel said...

You do make some good points, Fletch, as much as I know I liked it a bit more than you did. I think people can watch this and relate (or not relate at all) to really different parts of it - the military aspect, the family aspect, the friends aspect, the veteran aspect, etc. In that sense I'll admit that it was a bit scattered, but I still found the best Iraq movie so far (probably followed by Elah) - which isn't saying too much.

David said...

I was going to see this one over the weekend, but did not find the time. I don't think I will fork over the money for it now. My best friend is being stop-lossed and I have heard all about it. This movie just seems completely unbelievable; I don't think these people are really out there trying to avoid this. It is all in the contract they sign. Draft would be something different, but these people chose to be there so they know what they are getting themselves into. Ok, I will stop now since I have a feeling this could strike some heated opposition.