Ang Lee is a pretty powerful director. He’s made such fantastical films like Life of Pi and such serious works of drama like Brokeback Mountain. In this film he mixes both of those elements into the backdrop of the Iraq War through the lens of Specialist Billy Lynn.
I went to go see this movie with my family last weekend and wow! Overall it was a pretty solid and well made movie! It was also pretty cool to see Chris Tucker and Steve Martin in a movie again!
What I liked about this film:
- Firstly, the acting is pretty powerful. This is a first for Joe Alwyn on the big screens in America and he delivered a solid and powerful performance as the titular character Billy Lynn. I really thought he portrayed the character very well and conveyed such strong emotions on screen. He was definitely what kept this film going and he carried most of the slack the film produced on the side. Kristen Stewart and Garret Hedlund did excellent in their roles as Billy’s sister and his Sergeant. The acting overall in this film is totally solid and very convincing.
- The violence in this film is haunting and I do mean that in a good way. I liked the message it sent that war isn’t pretty and shouldn’t be glorified. It really showed what service members go through when put into those impossible situations overseas. I am not sensitive to war violence as I’ve seen many MANY war films before, but every scene of violence in this movie is like watching the Saving Private Ryan Mellish getting stabbed scene. It feels so personal and gritty.
- The art direction in this film is amazing. I thought the film thematically was carried by the editing, cinematography and effects. The way war seamlessly meshes into the background in the lives of these soldiers was an excellent way of showing how soldiers face PTSD and how nothing is the same when they come home.
- I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It’s about average of what you expect but it’s definitely the acting, violence, and art direction that really carries the story to greater heights than it would on its own.
What I disliked about this film:
- The romance in this movie was my biggest problem. It just wasn’t done right and it was just so cheesy and uncomfortable to see. It just happens out of nowhere and doesn’t really feel right. It gets super boring after a while and a tedious chore to watch. You kind of just want it to be over and get to the next sequence than have to sit through it.
- I personally thought Vin Diesel’s role in this film was a bit of a waste. There could have been a bit more of him to show camaraderie among the men but he’s cut rather short which was rather disappointing.
- The movie at some parts stagnates. There are some sequences in this film that I thought could be removed completely and the film would’ve been much faster and much better. Unfortunately they bog down the film a lot and muddle the powerful themes and acting the movie showcases.
Overall I thought that Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk was a great portrait of humanity and the price that many face during wartime. It is not a flawless film but it definitely is not a bad one either. I think this is a solid flick to go check out in the theaters when you have the chance.
I give Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk a 7/10. A good film with potential but muddled by a cheesy romance, long parts, and wasted roles.