a patriotic and affirming film that avoids being jingoistic. it follows three storylines each with a pair of characters who are involved in the war on terror in some way. one pairing is a college professor (redford) and one of his students; another follows two soldiers (luke and pena); and the last follows a reporter (streep) and a republican party leader (cruise). the three storylines felt a bit like: apt pupil, jarhead and network respectively. each storyline was compelling in some way and the whole film was well-written. it addresses the issues of the war, both on the battlefield, and homefront (both from the perspective of the planners and academics who analyze it). cruise’s character is closest to a villain and he drew plenty of boos and hisses from the audience, but through most of the film i felt his voice was an important one. in the end, though, it is revealed that his plan for the war in afghanistan is essentially a selfish move towards the presidency. demonizing him was probably the biggest misstep of the script. it certainly makes the valid point that we shouldn’t get fooled again by those in power (the lambs of the title), but, with regards to the wars we are currently fighting, i felt he took a position that is underrepresented: fully acknowledging the massive failures of past policies, but knowing that pulling out would only end in chaos and a power vacuum.
the other storylines, meanwhile, challenge the viewer by essentially asking what they’re doing about the situation. it rightly points out that those in power bank on our apathy and love of the trivial (celebrity gossip, video games, etc.) and not so trivial, but still relatively minor (getting a job, getting out of debt, etc.).
as expected, redford’s direction was overdone. a strong and important film nonetheless, anchored by solid writing and good performances.Watched in theater