Director: Robert Redford
Cast: Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise,
Derek Luke, Michael Pena, Andrew Garfield, Peter Berg
RunTime: 1 hr 32 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: http://lionsforlambs.unitedartists.com/
Opening Day: 8 November 2007
LIONS FOR LAMBS tells the poignant and layered story of several
individuals caught up at various ends of the nation’s
war on terror - a senator (Cruise) attempting to spin the
latest ‘comprehensive strategy’ to a network news
journalist (Streep), an idealistic professor (Redford) trying
to convince one of his most promising students (Garfield)
to change the course of his life, and two young men (Luke
and Peña), fighting in the snow-capped mountains of
Afghanistan, whose desire to live a life of meaning leads
them to join the U.S. army and the fight against global terrorism.
A few years ago, when a lecturer decided to screen Alan J.
Pakula’s All The President’s Men (1976) during
a journalism class, I did not remember being too impressed
with it initially. Why would any young and energetic undergraduate
want to sit through a 138-minute film about journalism ethics?
But when I saw Robert Redford’s reporter character Bob
Woodward uncovering the dirty cover-ups of the White House’s
involvement in the famous Watergate break-in, I was determined
that I can make a difference to the world if I was as self-righteous
forward a few years later, in Redford’s latest directorial
effort, I see him playing an idealistic college professor
who inspires his students to do something useful with their
lives, so much so that two of them eventually end up fighting
the war and stranded in the hostile grounds in Afghanistan.
storyline in this serious drama sees Tom Cruise playing a
senator who is about to give an explosive story to a veteran
journalist played by Meryl Streep. Themes like terrorism,
the ugliness of war and journalism ethics are woven into the
timely and current movie. This is definitely not a fee-good
large part of this 92-minute movie features the characters
talking to each other. Cruise asks Streep whether America
wants “to win the war on terror”. Streep tells
her editor that “it was all right there if we had bothered
to connect the dots”. Redford tells his apathetic student
that “the problem is with us who do nothing”.
All these and many more charged lines written by Matthew Michael
Carnahan will leave you reflecting on the many relevant issues
that have plagued the world we live in.
2000’s The Legend of Bagger Vance, Redford takes on
the role of the director to make this sometimes preachy movie
that may leave the adrenaline-seeking movie-goer cold. Sure,
the subject matters raised may be grave and serious, but movies
like this aren’t exactly new – remember the recently
released multiple-plotted political dramas Rendition (2007)
and Babel (2006)?
has also gathered an impressive cast for his seventh film.
Cruise goes about with his signature “Jerry Maguire”
persona, spouting lines which will probably inspire some MTV
Movie Award ceremony spoofs. We’ll just have to see
whether anyone buys this and gives the man an acting nomination.
As usual, Streep impresses us with her effortless take on
a reporter who’s torn between supporting the state’s
notion for unnecessary war. One look from the actress’s
expressive eyes is enough to make up for a slew of spoken
lines. Redford’s persuasive portrayal of an educator
complements younger actors like Michael Pena, Derek Luke and
the political commentary pompously poses the Democratic question
of whether we are doing enough to care and make a stand, there
is this awkward feeling in me that I’ve lost that idealism
I had a few years ago.
heavy-handed drama made appealing by the cast’s impressively
Review by John Li