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  Publicity Stills of
"Lions for Lambs"
(Courtesy from 20th Century Fox)

Genre: Drama
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
Rating: NC-16
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.

Movie Review:

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 as him.

Fast 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.

Another 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 popcorn movie.

A 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.

After 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)?

Redford 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 Andrew Garfield.

When 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.

Movie Rating:

(A heavy-handed drama made appealing by the cast’s impressively grounded performances)

Review by John Li


. Rendition (2007)

. Bobby (2007)

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