Movie Review: ‘Lions for Lambs’ |

Movie Review: ‘Lions for Lambs’

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

It is a sad day when Hollywood has to be the one to shove the truth in our faces. What else can be done when we as a nation no longer care about the most important issues of our generation? Why, head to the movies, of course. Then we can sit safely watching famous people confront issues that we are too scared to talk about. We can watch actors get shot in a war instead of go and fight in one ourselves, and when the credits roll, we can go home to our nice safe houses and sleep peacefully without giving the issues the movie raises a second thought. I’m no different from you, I won’t lose any sleep.

The biggest problem with “Lions for Lambs” is that it falls into its own trap of sideline chatter. It’s supposed to raise our level of awareness about how America fights wars today and the great sacrifice, loss, and, sometimes, victories that go along with it. But it just sounds like every coffee-shop political and philosophical debate ever made crammed into movie format.

But first things first. The plot, while somewhat intriguing, is barely more than a conversation between four people. In Washington DC, Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise) invites television reporter Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) to his office to reveal his latest plan that he says is guaranteed to win the war on terror in Afghanistan. For some reason Irving trusts Roth, even though she feels she is being used to sell his latest strategy.

In California, Professor Stephen Malley (Robert Redford) tries convincing his star pupil Todd (Andrew Garfield) to wise up and use his full potential if he wants to pass the professor’s class. Malley had two star pupils before Todd who decided to quit college and enlist with the Army. Malley regrets the student’s decision to enlist yet can’t help but admire their reasons for doing so.

Those two students, Arian and Ernest, just happen to be part of Senator Irving’s new plan to deploy smaller units on high ridges throughout Afghanistan to draw their soldiers into a fight. While about to land with the rest of their team, the helicopter comes under enemy fire and the two students fall on the mountain ridge while their team retreats. Now the two are alone and injured on a frozen mountain with little hope of survival.

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See how it all ties together?

Most of the movie is wasted on conversations between the lead actors, and occasionally switching to the action in Afghanistan, which by the end is the only thing left holding your interest.

Unless you’re in a coma, you will be forced to think about what you actually think of America’s current roll in foreign policy and on the world stage. For instance, how much longer can we continue as a super power without completely succumbing to imperialism? Should we go that route if that’s what it takes to keep America safe? Should we try to achieve victory at any cost? How many people must die before freedom costs too much?

The best part about “Lions for Lambs” is it doesn’t give you answers to any of your questions. You have to decide where the line in the sand is and if you will cross it. But once again, it comes off as the same propaganda that it spends 90 minutes trying to bash. It tries so hard to be the go-to movie for political awareness that it is completely unaware of how bad it missed the mark.

You could do worse than this though. And if this film is the one that makes you or I take action, then the ticket price is worth it.

Arts and Entertainment writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or

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