Do you have to be a democrat to love this political thriller? It wont hurt. But, no matter what your politics, theres no denying Robert Redfords cinematic call to action is, for some very uncinematic reasons, one of the most exciting movies of the year.
Granted, there are no transforming machine-assassins in this multi-faceted look at America and its involvement in the mid-East wars. The killers here are mere men, brandishing guns and a bit of military polish. Or are they the politicians, slick and savvy, sending young people to sacrifice, in an effort to protect our own interests? Lets not forget the journalists who, in an effort to break a story, jump for a headline and conveniently dont ask details. Ah, but the little guy doesnt get off easy here, either. Apathy is guilt, too, my friend.
Sure its a kick to watch three of our biggest movie stars, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep and Redford wrap their experience around the sometimes too wordy but pointedly pissed off script. All three deliver literate and engaging performances, as do supporters Michael Pena and Derek Luke. The involvement of all, but particularly that of the biggest names (who could, in some circles, be thought to have the most to lose) make this passionate plea not only more fun to watch but also harder to ignore. The commitment reminds me of those gutsy, infectious movies I grew up with in the 1970s a questioning of the establishment that has been deemed by some today as un-American. But dont get me started.
Tucked deliciously into all the philosophical back and forth is one small but much appreciated moment. As Streep argues with her boss as to whether or not they should go with a spoon-fed scoop, her face begins to flush. Threatened with losing her job, reminded of her age and the high cost of tending to her invalid mother, Steep begins to strip off her jacket. I was already laughing out loud as our accosted, conflicted heroine reaches for the office thermometer, in the throws of an out and out hot flash. Not only does Lions for Lambs fight the good fight for Americas morality, it also salutes the realities of those literally feeling the heat, at home.