Thursday, April 3, 2008
Another film with homoeroticism thrown in as a main theme... Stop-Loss tells the story of Bandon King (Ryan Phillippe). King is a soldier who has just completed his obligations in his contract with the Army during the war in Iraq who gets sent back through the stop-loss loophole. That detail lets the gov't ship your ass back to the front if they feel like it is in the best interest of the country during a time of war. It is also referred to as a backdoor draft although that is a rather ignorant idea of it. A draft would take someone who has no plans to join the military and this just another committment that the soldiers who SIGNED UP have to fulfill if our moron-in-chief declares it necessary. So that pity argument is lost on me.
Anyway... back to the film. Stop-Loss tries to be a message film about the horrors of combat. Two of King's friends are also back in good ol' Texas celebrating a little leave. Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is trying to deal with the loss of his best friend in their final month of duty in Iraq. King's other friend of which the homoeroticism emanates from in Steve (Channing Tatum). Steve is due to marry and settle down with Michelle (Abbie Cornish who is sort of a poor man's Charlize Theron). The only problem is his love for Brandon and their bond in the military... well that and the fact he is the kind of loser that can't be left to his own devices like Tommy. These kids joined the military because they didn't know what to do with themselves and now they found something they do well. Leaving it would too much for them to handle.
Michelle soon runs off with Brandon on a pointless trip first to Washington to try and get a meeting with their Senator of whom Brandon caught the ear of... this spirals into more "message" about the underground railroad of stop-lossed soldiers that takes them to Canada to start again. All of this is glossed over with only a glimpse into it. The treatment is much like a tv movie of the week. Ultimately the film finds it has nothing really to say and concludes in an unsatisfactory manner. Timothy Olyphant is wasted in a throw away role as Boot the soldiers' commanding officer.
Cowriter and director Kimberly Peirce made one of the best debuts in cinematic history with the emotional juggernaut of Boys Don't Cry. You see touches of her talent in the first hour with her skill in showing ordinary people in their environment. This film has some potential to really make a statement about the war, but wastes a golden opportunity. I read that there were at least 65 drafts of the script. Guess they should have made it 66 because that is where the real problem lies.