My opinions on modern American war films are largely negative – American Sniper is the latest one and I have so much hatred in my heart for it and what it promotes – and so when I found out we were to watch Lions for Lambs in English, I was… not looking forward to it, you could say. The movie itself, however, was fine. I guess. No strong opinion on it. For anyone unaware of the plot (which should be most of you, considering it isn’t a very well known film), it goes like this; three different but simultaneous stories, one chronicling a journalist’s interview with a senator who has launched a new military strategy in Afghanistan, the other shows two soldiers involved in this operation and the last features their college professor retelling their story to a student with plenty of potential that isn’t being utilized.
The college professor, Stephen Malley, (played by the ever charming Robert Redford) and the dispirited student Todd (Andrew Garfield) banter quite a deal, inspirational sentences are thrown around and Malley wants Todd to get involved in the current state of affairs that he feels so discouraged by. The two soldiers, Ernest (Michael Pena) and Arian (Derek Luke), felt that enlisting would be the answer. Along the way, the journalist Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) feels disheartened by her job and what she reports; it doesn’t feel as if she’s doing anything important anymore. The urging “do something” is quite evident in this film, as well as commentary on what the US has achieved in Iraq and Afghanistan (spoiler alert; not much).
The state of America itself has divided opinions, as well as the population’s view on wars – while polls in early 2003 showed 54% of the public favored an American invasion, a poll in 2007 showed that 61% felt it was a mistake and 76% said things were going badly there. However, with the ISIS actions of recent times, the tide is turning – 73% feel worry about Obama’s lack of strategy shown for ISIS in September 2014. We live in busy times; it’s hard to say what will happen tomorrow.
The best part of the film, however, was Robert Redford’s face. The best part is always Robert Redford’s face.