Lions for Lambs examines the consequences of American apathy, fear mongering, and willful, mindless submission to the drum beat laid out by those whose only tool for change is the hammer of war. While the themes are timely and meaningful, Lions for Lambs lacks resonance to make a stabbing point about our current military, political and media situation or poignant enough to make a more historical point about dispassion by citizens.
Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise) calls reporter Janine Roth (Meryl Streep), to take an entire hour to explain his new plan for winning the war in Afghanistan. Timidly and politely, Roth tries not to repeat her personal mistake when covering the run up to the Iraq War. The soldiers involved in the new plan, Earnest Rodriquez (Michael PeŮa) and Arian Finch (Derek Luke) are confronted by unexpected danger and left on a freezing mountain with only each other. Earnest and Arianís former college professor Stephen Malley (Robert Redford) tries to motivate his underachieving student Todd Hayes (Andrew Garfield) by recounting his experience with the two hard working students turned soldiers.
All of the performances in Lions for Lambs can be explained in one simple word, fine. There is nothing shameful about their performances but none of the actors rocked my socks either. I was disappointed that such a powerful cast could produce such a lackluster, uninspired performance resting just on the edge of downright dull. Cruise, Streep, PeŮa, Luke, Garfield and Redford seem to be a reasonable effort to their characters but there is a distinct lack of depth and strength to the writing.
Lions for Lambs is a question from writer Mathew Michael Carnahan to the audience; will you stand up for what you believe, give what you can, or will you tune out and make excuses for why you canít? Carnahan asks an important question, one we all would be wise to answer. What Carnahan didnít do is require an answer by stabbing the question into our conscience with a hot poker and searing it into our brains. Carnahanís attempts to sway the minds of those people unswayed seems more apt to reinforce the minds of those who already agree with his opinion. There is a lack of grey area that may be a relatable character for those persons who donít already agree with him. In many ways it felt like an atheist trying to talk an evangelical out of their religion by saying, ďDuh, stupid, there is no god.Ē
I am personally troubled by the lack of interest in important things, ignored by a well fed and well entertained society. It is a question that Hollywood is perfectly suited to pose. Lions for Lambs whispers the question to people who arenít listening and in the end, affects nothing.
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