Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Review
Director: Ang Lee.
Something I love about Ang Lee is his ability and daring to direct films completely different to most of his previous catalogue. You could be forgiven for forgetting he's the behind the camera of films like Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Life of Pi, but seems to be well remembered for directing the 2003 Hulk.
It's a film based of the bestselling novel by Ben Fountain, about a platoon of young soldiers coming home after an eventful tour in Iraq to be paraded about town as heroes to what feels like a PR campaign to help rally the public to support their efforts. It's obviously central to Pvt. Billy Lynn who is revered for an act of bravery he performed whilst under enemy fire but the whole squad is represented, especially the camaraderie and respect between them all.
It's an interesting depiction of people's attitude and perception how things might appear differently after coming home from a tour of duty, but is it a true representation of a post war reception soldiers may face upon their return, civilians either revelling or protesting in their presence.
Screen debut, Joe Alwyn plays Pvt. Billy Lynn, who looks too young to be soldier but I suppose it's true to form, actually enforcing the idea that men, too young head off to war. He's a great choice as lead, instead of a big Hollywood name that might distract from the film message and he does an amazing portrayal of a young man who just did his duty, showing that there's a very fine line between stupidity and courage. An impressive debut from Joe Alwyn and look forward to seeing him in more.
I had my doubts about Garrett Hedlund, not sure why because I'm a fan of his films, maybe because he's playing a Sgt. who's dishing out authority over the rest of the unit, again placing him too young to be in such a position but maybe my idea of a Sgt. has been spoilt by the many war films that have gone before, as he is very much, old enough to play a Sgt. and he does incredibly well, being my favourite character of the film. Stern, quick witted and has that calibre of a hard man but retains his humility.
There's a good supporting cast, all giving good strong performances, even if only for a small part of the 113min runtime, especially Chris Tucker and Steve Martin who both, haven't been on the big screen for a few years.
Whilst it does show how well American can put on a show with all the theatrics and knowing Lee is fully capable of producing spectacles, it's surprisingly dull in parts and wondering if the whole film being captured in 4K 3D was totally worth it? But having said that, I only saw the film in glorious 2D and I now wish I could see certain scenes to compare, especially the main stage and the military skirmish.
It is however, incredibly thought provoking, tackling modern topics of PTSD, the protesting and glorifying of war, but seen mostly from Billy Lynn's perspective with his own personal dilemmas he battles between the flashbacks of what happened and more recently his reunion with his family before the match.
The film is almost ironic and I think hints at it own origin as an idea for a film. A film about wanting to be the film that it has becomes. Even hinting at the a Chinese company to fund the movie, which this one incidentally is.
This is a film that's worth watching but unfortunately has so much potential to be something more. Can't fault the performances and is an intriguing story, it just doesn't the touchdown it so should.
Running Time: 7
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 6
The Extra Bonus Point: 0
Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Yes.