War Machine

This movie intends to satirize the American war in Afghanistan and I suppose it manages to land a few punches, but it’s so cartoonish the film gets bled of any real bite. Brad Pitt plays ‘Obama’s General’, 4-star Glen McMahon (a placeholder for Stanley McChrystal), the guy brought in to win a war his own country started, so of course when things to go to shit, he gets a disproportionate amount of the blame.

War Machine reminds us that war is won by men, but it’s the men in suits who run this MV5BMjQzMzUzNzY3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDA5ODI0MjI@._V1_CR0,59,640,360_AL_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_war, not men in uniform. Politicians run things but don’t bother to check in with the men on the ground, who are operating on the basis of “counter-insurgency”, a losing proposition each and every time. The soldiers can’t distinguish between the enemy and the people they’re trying to protect. The war is a clusterfuck but so is this lazy attempt at satire.

It looks like it was filmed with a $400 budget and the same can-do American spirit that kept sending more troops to an unwinnable war (at two hours, it’s much too long to have said so little, and not long enough to have left any impression). The voice-over is straight out of a Lifetime movie (it’s meant to be the Rolling Stone journalist who got poor McMahon fired in the end – an unnecessary and cheesy device). And Brad Pitt is doing an awful voice like he’s trying to convince you it’s not really him. It feels like a gross miscalculation on Pitt’s part: the weird growl, the caricature-ish squint, it’s all a little too much to make the General feel flesh and blood.

The script isn’t smart enough and the film offers no insight. And even though it’s a mess, it makes 2009 look kind of quaint compared to 2017, which is the most depressing sin of all.

 

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12 thoughts on “War Machine

  1. J.

    Ah man, I’m disappointed that this turned out to be a bit mnah. I was looking forward to seeing Pitt in Aldo Raine mode again.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yes me too. I think he’s having fun with this role – just maybe a little too fun. Also, he’s going big, cartoonish, when everyone else around him are playing it straight. It’s a bad fit and not great work, which is too bad, because this could have been much better.

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      1. J.

        Yeah, that’s unfortunate. Certainly looked like it could have been really very good, but I guess it was hard to gauge from the trailer that it was mostly played straight. I’ll likely give it a miss. Unless I’m stuck with 2 hours to burn. Which happens just about never. So, y’know…

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  2. Liz A.

    I think the movie makers need to have respect for the military for a movie like this to work. Even satire needs a dose of realism. Ah well.

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  3. Christy B

    Too bad this one doesn’t have a good plot as I am a fan usually of Pitt’s acting. Mind you his voice/facial expressions sound awkward for this film.

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