Wednesday, December 9, 2009


This is a movie of two divergent brothers. Two brother that went into opposite directions. One went to fight for his country, the other went to fight against society. One received tax free pay, the other one soaked up tax payer's money while contributing nothing. One started a family, the other one paid for a tattoo on his neck. But the bond between them still remained strong despite these glaring differences.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a semi-tough in this movie. He is a good actor, too bad we had to endure his sister in The Dark Knight. She looks him, she looked as much like the Joker in that movie as Heath Ledger. And he was the Joker. Tommy Cahill is Jake's character. Spiderman turns out to be a punk in this movie. But Tobey Maguire is so plain looking, can we really take this guy serious? He is Capt. Sam Cahill and if there was ever a Marine who could not strike fear in a baby kitten, Uncle Sam found his man.

The difference between the brother is exploited by Hank Cahill. I have been through this before, it is tough to feel and see a parent favor a sibling over oneself. Sam Shepard from many films included the realistic and mesmerizing film called Black Hawk Down. Hank clearly favors Sam over Tommy. This is blatant favortism and only forces a schism that does not have to exist. Who cares if Tommy made a mistake? He knows this, he served his time. The argument at the outset of this movie at the dinner table could have been avoided if Hank was not a total prick. He treats one of his sons like trash when that son has already paid his debt to society and has really damaged his life. Rather than be supportive, he attacks Tommy for past mistakes in the last dinner they would have as a family before Sam departs to the conflict zone. Pretty sad.

Sam's unit is called to return to Afghanistan. He has two cute daughters with Queen Padmé Amidala. Yes, Natalie Portman is here looking as cute as can be. Grace Cahill is the mother of two children and she is faced with the daunting task of raising these two sweeties in this uncertain world all by her lonesome when the terrible news is delivered to her. Yes, Sam offered his life for this country. His life was taken in Afghanistan.

This is what we are lead to believe for about 8 minutes or so. The movie bounces back to the central Asian country and shows Sam and another soldier being marched in procession to their doom. It may as well be, for one it actually is. They are both tortured and treated terribly. They are actually tortured unlike the so called waterboarding torture that the left likes to claim. What is torture? I would say listening to Rosie O' Donnell or Nanci Pilosi speak is torture. This concept of torture is completely subect. Moreover, this movie bounces back and forth from Afghanistan to small town USA where Tommy and Grace are beginning to fall for each other.

In one scene, one of the chief terrorists states to Sam that they should not be there. Meaning the US ofcourse. I would have undermined that reasoning instantly with a retort such as: "We would not be here if you did attack us in New York City, killing many Americans, or if you did not allow a terrorist group save haven on your soil to attack free societies all over the world." Ofcourse, in reality, I would have shortened this up. The terrorist has it all wrong as they usually do. Their delusional frame of mind has manifested itself to wreak world wide havoc.

While Sam and this other soldier are being held hostage, Sam is the resolute one. He is the leader, to the core. He constantly reminds this soldier to remain positive and maintain military discipline. But he is the one that breaks and ends up killing this young man with a pipe while the terrorists filmed it. Who cares if he is at gun point, he should have swung at the terrorist and forced them to kill him. But he punked out and proved how hypocritical he was. He also showed his true character, he was never that tough in first place. He believed all the military hogwash and garbage his marine father filled into his head for many years.

One of the daughters causes a scene at the dinner table in front of a girlfriend of Tommy's. This is well into the descent of Sam. Why she does this is beyond me. Her vulgar language is mind boggling and her rant totally undermines the credibility of her mother. Pretty bizaare, I cannot believe this is accurate. I can see a daughter talking back and being rude but this spitfire was too poignant to root from a small child. This leads to an ugly altercation between Sam and Tommy, but not at their parent's home but at Sam's. Tommy and some friends rebuilt and painted Grace's kitchen while Sam was on the other side of the planet. This is what Sam attacks and lays into. His mind is in an ugly state, the guilt for what he did is showing itself in the worst way.

The police are called, Hank is forced to do this. His mother urges him to do so. They know their son's is being tormented by demons. Hank deserves this a little but not at this magnitude. Sam has a hand gun and almost shoots his brother in the kitchen he chose to completely refurnish to help his wife out. This was a sparkle when she was really sad her husband was away. Sam is irate the police are called and confronts them in the front yard. The police would have probably shot him if it was not for Tommy fighting for his brother's life. Sam almost commits suicide in front of them all. This spectacle is subdued with Sam miraculously drops the weapon. The police engulf him. Sam can now see a doctor which he has been needing to see when he was first rescued in that lawless region.

The movie ends on a positive note. But this movie is troubling. It is based on a true story. There are many themes tied to this movie. Not one person is really guilt free in this movie. For instance, Grace chose to marry this die hard marine who probably was sort of fake from genesis.

This movie is a solid drama. It is worrisome because some people could think any soldier who returns from a war zone could just be nuts. This is not the case. Tommy gets out of prison and chooses to spend money he does not have on alcohol. Pretty stupid. He would have been back in jail if it was not for Grace. He decided to drink more than he could afford. The probation officer was on the verge of getting a call from the bartender/owner. Tommy seems to mature quickly shortly thereafter but the script writers never wanted to inform us if ever obtained a job. How he was affording to pay rent in that destitute apartment, I am not sure.

Tobey McGuire actually was crazy in this movie. He had that glass eye look in him. A straight jacket is what he needed. This movie's characters were not fully developed though. This movie had the big names, it could have been a little longer. For example, there was not one song in this movie. Music helps stimulate a story.

I allocate this movie two stars.**

No comments: