Friday, December 28, 2007

Lions for Lambs


I have searched my memory and I have come to the conclusion that Lion for Lambs is the first Tom Cruise starring movie that has made me think – all thanks to Robert Redford who directed it.

But I must warn Cruise fans out there Lion for Lambs doesn’t have much of a story; no cat and mouse suspense; no death defying action; no sex. The film isn’t about making Tom Cruise looking cool. It’s a debate film, if that is the appropriate description; as all of the characters at one point or another have engaged in a debate with fellow characters. And the issue of the day is the War on Terror.

What mimics as a story are two underprivileged young men, who, to the surprise of many of their classmates sign up for an unpopular war. Yet even they as characters are not exempt from debate. They defended their point of view to their classmates and to their professor, Stephen Malley (Robert Redford).

I was grasping for an analogy and the best I can come up with is an editorial column. But these columns are often one sided regardless if its argued from all points of view; the publisher’s/paper’s point of view has to stand out. An editorial column brings arguments derived from issues of the day and afterwards the paper makes a case of their own.

Lions for Lambs is surprisingly fair to all sides; it is balanced. Now that’s not something I can say for the creations of anti bush filmmaker Michael Moore.

Arguments for the war can be seen in the scenes involving Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise) and reporter Janine Roth (Meryl Streep). Sometimes the hawkish Irving seems right and sometimes the anti-war Roth gets the better of the argument. If Irving in the end looks like an ambitious presidential aspirant it doesn’t rob the impact of the characters arguments.

Professor Malley’s own “debating” scene is about the undecided which represented by his student. This is the debate, the part of the movie which is most relevant to everybody. It’s the one to watch.

The undecided student, or maybe disheartened is the more appropriate word, is really about the common man. Many are disheartened and yet many of them passionate, but instead of engagement they choose to stay out, be uninvolved, and all the while criticizing.

The films tagline gives the message in a nutshell: if you don't STAND for something, you might FALL for anything.

Acting wise nothing negative can be said of Redford, Streep, and Cruise. They were perfect. I liked Meryl Streep as a reporter, the way she wore her glasses, asked the questions, and played with her pen. Maybe the surprise here is Cruise. There is not much change in the way he acts, moves, or handles himself; but the role is just perfect for him.

Lions for Lambs is not a film I’d recommend for everybody especially at today’s movie prices. It’s the type film where you might get “nosebleeds” as my friend would describe it.

But if you’re not into the movies for fun then by all means watch it. It’s a thinking movie and the way that society is going, we really have much to think about.