Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Also saw Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, the new war/coming home movie from Ang Lee. I highly recommend doing what everyone else did and not see this movie (it came in 13th place in its opening weekend, making under one million bucks). Of course, people not seeing a movie doesn’t make it bad – but this movie is good cause to suggest there is a correlation.
The trailers to this movie suggested it was a heart-warming film about life and surviving war set to an appearance during half-time at an NFL game. That he’d relive his experiences in Iraq during the show. But, no, the halftime sequence lasts about five minutes which, if nothing else, makes the movie’s title a lie. This is not a “long” halftime walk.
This movie is nothing if not aggressively in your face about its message. It’s preachy, pretentious, aimless, and strangely I’m not even sure what it was about while being very sure what it was trying to preach to me about.
The story is about a solider in 2004 who is caught on camera coming to the rescue of one of his squadmates in Iraq. This makes him a national hero and he and his squad are rotated back to the states to appear in a publicity (propaganda) tour including the halftime show in question (where they will stand behind Destiny’s Child while they perform and while our hero stares at their asses while a backward dancer tells him to f*ck off).
This is an anti-war movie that is crass and cynical and is about ten years too late. But, you see ya’ll, war is bad and the people who come home from it are emotionally scarred. But, you are surely informed, they are also being used by civilians who don’t know what they go through… and, in fact, the movie basically accused the audience of being manipulative of the soldiers. That it’s our fault for not understanding but also for putting them on pedestals and, ironically, in movies. One of the plots is how Hollywood is gunning to make their story into a movie and how that money could legitimately help the squad… except it’s still bad for them to put them in a dog and pony show in the first place.
We are assured that these messages are important because the actors will literally look into the camera and inform us of the message they are imparting. Any time this happened, it was distracting and kind of insulting that they were so sure we wouldn’t get the point until they talked directly to us in the audience.
I’m not saying some of the messages in this movie are bad and I’m even thinking the message about citizens not “getting” the war and how the rich use the soldiers to their propaganda advantage. I’m just saying it’s not itself an original enough message to handle the ten ton hammer the movie uses to drive the point home.
This is a pretty bad movie. Maybe some people will get more out of it even though the target audience might actually be the ones its insulting or attacking. Maybe that’s good – maybe they’ll think about the war closer next time. Maybe. I doubt it – they’ll probably just be insulted and go see Hacksaw Ridge.
Score: 65

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