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Drama

Trash

Stephen Daldry's Rio-set delight pits destitute boys against conniving local authorities.

X+Y

British director Morgan Matthews' debut feature tackles math, love and autism.

Still Alice

Julianne Moore and Kristin Stewart make a film about Alzheimer's into a powerhouse.

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Felony

Tom Wilkinson, Joel Edgerton and Jai Courtney prove themselves a highly watchable trio.

The Two Faces of January

A Patricia Highsmith novel gets creditable treatment in Hossein Amini's debut film.

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David Fincher's latest covers betrayal, media hype and how a bad economy can open lurid doors.

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Edge of Tomorrow (Live Die Repeat)

The reset button gets a boost in a sci-fi thriller that lets Tom Cruise mock Tom Cruise.

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Gareth Edward's remake of Japan's favorite monster owes a nuclea debt Fukayama.

The Signal

Director William Eubank's engrossing sci-fi focuses on the risks of knowing too much.

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Jamie Marks is Dead

Director Carter Smith takes teen angst into a ghostly dimension, with little success.




Date: 2007
Directed by: Robert Redford
Starring: Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Michael Peña

Lions for Lambs

It's understandable to make want to make an idealistic political "thriller" about the twin-pulls of duty to country and Iraq-tempered skepticism. But only a strong and coherent story, "Syriana"-style, can save such an undertaking from becoming that least appetizing of animals — the liberal Hollywood sermon. There's no saving director Robert Redford's cut-and-paste job about idealism gone awry. Start to finish, it's plagued with bad planning and hackneyed pitfalls — a bit like some war efforts.

He loosely ties together a California political science professor (Redford), a gung-ho U.S. senator with a new plan to "win" in Afghanistan (Tom Cruise), a skeptical reporter interviewing the senator (wasted Meryl Streep), and two of the professor's students who feel duty-bound to enlist and, of course, find themselves in hell-hole Afghanistan. The title, "lions for lambs," shortens (and waters down) a Battle of the Somme observation by a German officer about the folly of British soldiers being led to trench-warfare slaughter by unyielding generals, "Nowhere have I seen such Lions led by such Lambs." In essence, the lions are hopeful American boys and the lamb/donkeys the self-righteous leaders ill-equipped to manage them either militarily or politically.

The fractured, unthrilling narration skips back and forth between smooth senator, war scenes and anguished (Vietnam vet) professor. But the failure to decide just who and what are important at any given time dishonors the underlying message of hypocrisy abundant, good young men wasted and American idealism betrayed. It's an abnormally annoying outcome in the hands of Redford, whose worst films are usually more accomplished.

Reviewed by: Marcia Yarrow
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