HOME OF THE BRAVE
MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
Samuel L. Jackson as WILL MARSH
Jessica Biel as VANESSA PRICE
Brian Presley as TOMMY YATES
Christina Ricci as SARAH SCHIVINO
Curtis Jackson as JAMAL AIKEN
Chad Michael Murray as JORDAN OWENS
Directed by: Irwin Winkler
BY KEVIN CARR
I originally had a chance to see “Home of the Brave” when it was dropped unceremoniously in the theatres during last year’s award season. Due to scheduling conflicts, I missed the screening, but I did feel a twinge of simultaneous regret and relief when I heard the awful reviews coming from my fellow local film critics. I was grateful because I didn’t feel like I missed a possible award contender, but I also felt relief because from what I heard, it wasn’t that great of a film.
Now I’ve seen it on DVD, and I come to it with a perspective different than I had a year ago. “Home of the Brave” is one of the first anti-war films launched by Hollywood. Now, we’re inundated with them. After suffering through the mind-numbingly boring “In the Valley of Elah” and the strawman preachiness of “Rendition” (both horrendous box office flops), I was numb to the message of “Home of the Brave.”
Contrary to what the posters and trailers might lead you to believe, “Home of the Brave” is not about the conflict. It is about the aftermath. Several soldiers are ambushed in Iraq, leaving them all emotionally scarred. The combat scenes only constitute the opening ten minutes of the film with the rest of the story showing the veterans’ struggles as they return to civilian life.
I don’t doubt that these are real struggles felt by our veterans of this war, but they are presented with such a heavy hand in “Home of the Brave,” it’s hard to take them seriously. While the film tries to be sensitive to the people’s plight, it does itself (and the soldiers) a disservice by presenting them as brittle, emotionally fragile victims.
Director Irvin Winkler has given us some decent films in the past, but its clear that the message he is trying to lobby in this film overshadowed his writing ability. This is illustrated with prejudice in once scene where Jessica Biel’s character and Brian Presley’s character meet in a movie theater to lament the war with every overblown cliche.
I don’t doubt the good nature Winkler had in making this film, but it appears to come with a complete ignorance of the everyday soldier’s attitude, training and resilience. Ultimately, these anti-war films are bombing (no pun intended), and I don’t even blame politics for this. The bottom line is that there is so much talk of the war permeating every nook and cranny of 24-hour cable news, the daily rags and the internet that I think the last thing the American people want is a weepy two-hour diatribe in the cineplex as well.
“Home of the Brave” comes with a commentary track and the original trailer.