Sunday, January 22, 2006
Welcome to the Suck is the slogan used by the US Marines in Iraq and also used on the poster to this film. However the film does not suck at all and is actually really really good.
If you're expecting a modern day Apocalypse Now, you're not going to get it. This isn't about the violence of war from the point of view of the protagonist, as was common place with the Vietnam War genre. It's more about the futility and tedium in being sent away from home to take part in a war and not getting to contribute, and in doing nothing losing everything you have back home for making that sacrifice. It also shows how the war has moved from being on the ground to attacking from the air, why bother training men to be snipers when you can just call in an air strike and do the work for them.
It's not an anti-war movie but then it doesn't gloss over it or sanitise it as we're used to being shown by the media. Coming across a convoy that has been torched is particularly harrowing, Jake having a small conversation with one of the charred corpses is a nice touch.
Some of the cinematography is stunning, particularly those of the desert at night with the oil fields burning in the background. The majority of the daytime shots are quite bleached though, as you'd expect with filming in the heat. A simple directorial trick to do.
Sam Mendes has done a good job, and whilst this is no American Beauty it is certainly better than Road to Perdition (but then I'm biased as I can't stand Tom Hanks). Gylenhall is very good in the film and he'd be destined to be on the Oscar shortlist. Don't expect this film to have any nominations for Best Actress or Supporting Actress. This film is an all male production (pretty much).
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