Movie Review: Lions for Lambs (2007)

I went into seeing Lions for Lambs ready for a hearty dose of left-wing propaganda. Statements like “George W. Bush is a terrible president”, “we must find an exit strategy in Iraq since the war is going so poorly” and “the entire Republican party is a bunch of crooks and miscreants” were swirling through my head. What I wasn’t ready for was the story to told in such an unexpected manner (the trailers were a bit misleading).

Lions for Lambs is an intertwined tale of three equally compelling story lines. In one, Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise) is verbally sparring with a reporter, Janine Roth (Meryl Streep). He’s a polished Republican with firm convictions on how the world should be shaped and how the United States must shape it. To meet his goal of world order, he has architected a new plan of attack on the war on terror, starting with a renewed offensive in Afghanistan. She is a weathered reporter who refuses to eat his talking points. Both characters stand strong in their beliefs and as one might expect, Roth’s anti-Bush stance carries more weight than the stay the course rhetoric being mouthed by Irving.

In another thread, university professor Stephen Malley (Robert Redford) is challenging Todd Hayes (Andrew Garfield), a student who has lost his focus on school, to get reinvigorated in his studies. But that’s not the only reason to he’s speaking to him. Malley is trying to court Hayes into becoming a political activist and to pick a side for the battle of America. They counter back and forth without, unfortunately, coming to any real conclusions. The problem with this part, was instead of making me critically think about the political climate of the country (as the movie wants you to do), I simply shut their banter out of my head. Personally, I can’t stand listening to haughty individuals rationalize and try to one-up each other. Those types of people can all piss up a rope as far as I’m concerned.

And in the final path, two of Malley’s former students, Ernest Rodriguez (Michael Pena) and Arian Finch (Derek Luke) are in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban in Irving’s masterminded offensive. Things aren’t going well for them – the intelligence reports are once again fouled – and both solders find themselves stranded in very hostile territory. Their commander Lt. Col. Falco (Peter Berg) is deeply troubled by the situation and tries everything in his power to rescue them. The abandoned men, while waiting for help, take the time to remember how they got in this situation and ultimately realize that they’ve got to rely on their own abilities if they are to survive. You can’t count on the government for anything. And while this was meant as a way to tie together the pieces of the movie into a nice bundle, it all seemed strangely staged. More displeasing to me was the use of this segment as a launching pad to find fault with our military.

Obviously, from a conservative standpoint, I would have liked to see more equal representation for the right. Irving tries to make his case, but writer Matthew Michael Carnahan, ends up making him into a war monger. I especially liked the added touch of having a plaque on his wall that read: If I must choose between righteousness and peace, I choose righteousness. However, Lions for Lambs does raise a few thought provoking questions while reiterating the tried and true Bush bashing that we’ve been privy to for the past few years. No matter the agenda, it’s worth a view and a subsequent talk around the water cooler at the job. I’m sure that’s music to the ears of the political forces that helped shape and release this movie.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
4 Star Rating: Good


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The Critical Movie Critics

I'm an old, miserable fart set in his ways. Some of the things that bring a smile to my face are (in no particular order): Teenage back acne, the rain on my face, long walks on the beach and redneck women named Francis. Oh yeah, I like to watch and criticize movies.

'Movie Review: Lions for Lambs (2007)' have 6 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 11, 2007 @ 7:06 pm mullah cimoc

    mullah cimoc say ameriki need google: mighty wurltizer +cia

    then to asking why usa control media try to suppress attendance of anti war movie. A: so the other creator persons not to make the anti war movie too.

    this all part of mighty wurlitzer operation. now so sad to see ameriki, him woman the lesbian hate the man, him daughter the slut take the LBT (low back tattoo)and him son the gay homosexual of aid sick.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 14, 2007 @ 4:23 pm blogcabins

    Interesting comment above mine. Anyway…

    Though I’m totally biased as well (naturally), I saw this less as a left vs. right “you suck/no you do” diatribe than as a call to action by Redford for the silent masses (us) to do something, anything, when we’re pissed about what’s going on and/or want to contribute to society.

    In that regard, I saw it as a powerful, important film, no matter how lacking it was in plot or character or objectivity.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 14, 2007 @ 11:19 pm General Disdain

    Very interesting post, mullah cimoc. I get the distinct feeling you’re not so happy with American foreign policy . . .

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 16, 2007 @ 9:02 pm Heath

    Aside from the field scenes, this movie could have been adapted for the radio. It was so monotonous and boring, I nearly fell asleep. Not a good comeback for Cruise.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 26, 2007 @ 8:52 am gracchi

    I disagree with one of your earlier commenters- I think Tom Cruise was actually very good in this. However I do think the film failed and for similar reasons to you, the ultimate issue with the film was that the other two segments weren’t as good as the Cruise streep bits. That’s a pity. It would have been better had it been all Cruise Streep and you are right had that been done with more complexity- a sort of political version of Interview.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    March 20, 2008 @ 10:09 am RRRRyan

    I’ll just say BAD. Tom Cruise’s character was a ridiculous caricature while Streep’s was virtually omniscient. I actually hadn’t checked who the screenwriter was but I had guessed Streep had written herself in as the queen of wisdom in this propaganda. If Cruise accurately represents the liberal perspective on conservatives it is no wonder so many are so angry. I, on the other hand, am quite proud to be an American.

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