Stop-loss (US, 2008)

No way out

No way out

Another Hollywood Iraq movie that did very little business; this one from MTV films. Focusing on the use of the ‘stop-loss’ clause that effectively drafted soldiers about to leave the army back to Iraq, this is not obviously commercial fodder. It’s not Hollywood’s fault, or the film-makers’, but the audience’s, that issue-driven films are rarely made – they don’t make enough money.

Kimberly Peirce is an interesting director for a project as she was successful with the issue-based Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and shows enough skill for a tense, action-driven opening in Iraq. The rest of the film focused on the problems of returning vets and places it in the genre with numerous post-World War II movies and some Vietnam films of the 1970s. I’m not sure Ryan Phillipe has enough weight for the lead, he has to be both thoughtful and macho, and there’s far too many fist-fights (though not enough for MTV’s target audience maybe). However, the material’s handled very well until the last 15 minutes where, I think, the film loses its way. Terrific cinematography from Chris Menges, by the way.

Although the opening is gripping (an ambush in Tikrit) the representation of the Iraqis is depressingly one-dimensional. I guess there was no ‘room’ in the film to explain their motivation but the film is definitely anti-war/Bush, not just anti-stop-loss.

Timothy Olyphant is telling in his role of the commanding officer; we need to see more of him.

One Response

  1. Yes, Timothy Olyphant a terrific actor of such instant classics as Gone in 60 Seconds, Dreamcatcher, Hitman and Die Hard four point.less. I hope you noticed the sarcasm in my message.

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