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Stop-Loss
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  • Well-intentioned but flawed
    Stop-Loss is a solid, well-intentioned film that has its moments but somehow doesn't quite come together to deliver the full emotional or intellectual impact it should have had. Ryan Phillippe shines as a good soldier torn between duty, honor and the haunting memories of his time in Iraq, and the rest of the cast is solid, particularly Victor Rasuk's understated performance as a severely injured private whose spirit may or may not be broken.

    The camera effects in the first act are a little distracting at times, and the road trip in the second act is stretched a bit longer than necessary, but well-deserved kudos to Kimberly Peirce for shining a light on an underreported aspect of the war and taking a nuanced shades of gray approach to her subject -- the Stop Loss policy itself is bad enough, there's no need to offer bad guy caricatures -- and going with the only ending that made sense.

    It's not the defining generational classic some have claimed, but it's definitely worth a rental....more info
  • Despicable
    So, I am sitting here in Iraq watching this tripe, and I want to puke. It is such an innacurate portrayal of the war, the military, and Soldiers.

    This "hero" is a coward. He lets his whole outfit go back without him. If he was such a great Soldier, leader and hero, he would have been the first in line.

    Yeah, people get stop lossed. When I VOLUNTEERED to come to Iraq, I knew that I was going to get stop lossed MONTHS in advance.

    The idea that the day you go to ETS, they just drop it on you as an individual that you are stop lossed is preposterous. Yeah, the Army can hang onto you for however long the need to. It is part of the deal. Yeah, if you join you might have to go to war. If you enlisted VOLUNTARILY after 9/11 and don't think you are going to war, you are an idiot.

    This film portrays cowards as heros. From what I hear, it is being lauded in the states as some form of great tale of how things really are over here, and how they are for my brothers in arms upon their return home.

    Nobody asked us to sign up for this. We knew the deal when we signed the papers and swore an oath before God that we would serve our nation for those who could not serve for themselves.

    This film is a disgrace, and puts a black mark on all of the heroic deeds of the brave men and women over here on their first, second, or seventh deployment....more info
  • Minnelli Rebooted
    STOP LOSS is a film with many virtues, especially its raw and rushed look by the great Chris Menges, but it hasn't much of a screenplay and some of the boys-only sequences leave audiences wondering how Kim Peirce thinks men spend their time together. Ryan Phillipe has always found peace at the ranch, it's been a safe place, but now it's become a place of danger now that he is AWOL or whatever. This ranch place is a couple of shacks hardly fit for dogs to live in, but the imaginary Texas boys of Peirce's screenplay slobber all over it like lt's the Grand Hilton of boy fun. They shoot off dozens of rifles and handguns and kill them some wild animals. I get it, it's sort of like Iraq, but it made me start thinking, maybe Iraq would be more fun for these boys if they could do the kind of uninhibited drinking they do out at their forty acre ranch. Australian starlet Abbie Cornish seems to have prepared for her part as the girl next door by watching reel after reel of old LBJ press conferences, and her West Texas accent is startlingly good, if a little, well, brusque. Any moment I expected her to pick up a beagle by its ears and swing it around.

    You know what it's like, the hunting sequences in Vincente Minnelli's HOME FROM THE HILL. I expect Minnelli had even less experience that Peirce being out on a weeklong fox hunt with a pack of drink-crazed good ol boys, but he brought an imagined, Bacchic frenzy to such sequences, amped up the red filter playing off the barbeque flames, and it paid off for him. In each case, the director's fascination with masculinity makes film fairly pop with color and sweat. Minnelli probably wished from his grave, that it had been he who had captured that shot of a drunken Channing Tatum, wearing only a pair of insanely tight, sultry and shiny Calvin Kleins, digging himself into a makeshift grave in his own front garden, cowering in the headlights of a car, crying and turning his own body into a Pieta....more info
  • An Arm, A Leg & An Eye
    Director Kimberley Peirce keeps the pace going well in this film about US soldier fighting in Iraq who find that they are being returned to active duty via the stop-loss clause. Ryan Philippe has been in a number of films that I like such as Crash (Widescreen Edition), Flags of Our Fathers (Widescreen Edition), Chaos & Breach (Widescreen Edition). As Sgt. Brandon King, he is the squad leader who looks forward to concluding his military service after experiencing the death of his fellow soldiers.

    The homecoming sequences speak of soldiers who have suffered Post Traumatic Stress and the confusion of their families who do not quite know how to deal with wounded spirits, minds and bodies. Channing Tatum from She's the Man (Widescreen Edition) & Supercross does an excellent job as the confused soldier. The scene where he digs a trench in his front yard and totes a gun around is scary. Australian actress Abbie Cornish who was in Elizabeth - The Golden Age (Widescreen Edition) does a credible job with the American accent as the girl who befriends Brandon and dumps Steve when he reenlists. Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is familiar from TV's "Third Rock from the Sun" plays Tommy Burges who gets so crazy that he gets booted out of the service even though he wants to stay in. Timothy Olyphant who was great as the lead in Hitman (Unrated Edition) plays Lt. Col. Boot Miller and talks the company line to his soldiers. His decision to throw Brandon King into the brig ignites King's escape and sets up the last two-thirds of the film. Meryl Streep's daughter Mamie Gummer plays Tommy's wife and does well graveside. Gummer did an excellent job in Evening and shines in this small role. Linda Emond who was in Across the Universe (Two-Disc Special Edition) & North Country (Widescreen Edition) is very sympathetic and loyal to her son Brandon as his mother Ida King. Veteran actor Ciaran Hinds plays Brandon's father Roy. Victor Rasuk has an outstanding cameo as the injured Rico Rodriguez who loses an arm, a leg and his vision.

    Yes, there are politics about the war that the film addresses. The film reflects that war is an awful experience. Our fighting men and women are put into hellish circumstances that no father nor mother would wish on their children, but which world events prove necessary. In a democracy such as ours, the people can change course or stay the course on Election Day. I don't think you can fault the President for doing what he feels is appropriate or the soldiers who fight the war. The ultimate responsibility is with the American people. Ultimately this conflict is their choice IMHO. However, "Stop-Loss" is not politics. It deals in an artful manner with the consequences of war. It does it honestly, even-handedly & with some excellent acting talent. The DVD extra deleted scenes were interesting to watch. The ending did not seem to fit the rest of the film, however. It was as if the screenwirter or producer insisted that the film shift gears rather than letting the film conclude in a natural organic way. Enjoy!...more info
  • Soldier Rebels Against "Back Door Draft"

    "Stop-Loss," the second feature film directed by Kimberly Peirce, focuses on a group of army buddies. We see them in a fire fight in Tikrit, Iraq that leaves several in their squad either dead or severely injured.
    Their leader, Sgt. Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe), is thrilled to complete his tour of duty and return to his Texas hometown. There, he is greeted as a hero, decorated with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and told by his senator to look him up in Washington if he needs anything. Civilian life is looking good to Brandon when he is unexpectedly ordered back to Iraq, or stop-lossed.
    Outraged at the army's failure to fulfill its part of his contract, Brandon decides to fight the order. Instead of going back to base, he goes to Washington to seek the help of the senator. But because he is AWOL, the senator will not see him. He has become a fugitive, with both military and local police looking for him.
    This is the first film about Iraq to really engage the viewer. "Rendition," "Redacted," and "Lions for Lambs" were more preachy than entertaining, and never attracted large audiences. "Stop-Loss" is a far more personal look at the human dimension of one policy, rather than an outright condemnation of the war,
    Brandon and his pals Steve (Channing Tatum), Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and Rico (Victor Rasuk) are good soldiers. They do their duty, facing danger at every turn without complaint. In fact, Steve objects when he learns that Brandon is going against orders to fight a system he feels is unjust. Brandon refers to the stop-loss policy as a back-door draft -- keeping soldiers after their contracts are up because recruitment is down and every one is needed to fight in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
    At first, Peirce wanted to make a documentary about the stop-loss policy and interviewed some actual soldiers, but eventually settled on this fictional film using stop-loss as its key plot point. She may have been too ambitious in telling Brandon's story and intercutting it with Tommy's self-destructive alcoholism and Steve's shaky relationship with his girlfriend, Michele (Amy Cornish). Earlier films, such as "The Deer Hunter" and "Coming Home," have dealt with post-war trauma of returning soldiers, so the scenes involving Tommy and Steve are pretty predictable. Phillippe is a fine actor who is just now getting larger roles in films. He was excellent in both "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Breach," and now adds another exceptional performance with "Stop-Loss." With a believable Texas twang, his Brandon registers as a regular guy who has become an excellent soldier. He would no more think of disobeying an order than juggling scorpions. He is respectful, honest, obedient, and courageous. But he never comes across as a goody-goody. He enjoys kicking back a few beers and raising hell on Saturday night with his pals. So his Everyman is a guy we look up to. When he decides to go AWOL, it is both dramatic and shocking. Phillippe portrays Brandon not as a guy who wants to run. His first instinct is to right an injustice, but the army, politics, and bureaucracy conspire against him.
    The film has great strengths. The opening sequence, beautifully staged and edited, shows Brandon in Iraq leading his men into what turns out to be an ambush. We get a real feel for the fear that soldiers deployed in Iraq must undergo. Trapped in a narrow alley, their vehicle and heavy machine gun destroyed, they have to battle gunfire from the roofs on both sides of the street, sheltering in strange buildings where death can wait at every turn. These scenes rank with the most realistic movie battle scenes.
    Another strong scene is Brandon's visit to Rico in a veteran's hospital. Rico is severely disabled from the ambush in Iraq, yet retains his sense of humor and optimism. As squad leader, Brandon feels responsibility for Rico's condition, yet is helpless to do more than pay him a visit and offer encouragement. Rasuk, first seen on screen five years ago in "Raising Victor Vargas," is a natural actor with great charm. His small role and one memorable scene add resonance to the story, contrasting Rico's constructive attitude with Tommy's inability to get a grip on civilian life.
    I was happy to see that Peirce avoided typical pitfalls. A road trip Brandon takes with Michele, for example, remains just that, with no romantic complications. The relationship between Brandon and his buddy's girlfriend is not typical Hollywood, and that's precisely why it rings true.
    "Stop-Loss," rated R, is both the engaging story of one soldier trapped by an unfair, desperate practice, and a cautionary tale of how government policy can betray those who fight our wars.
    ...more info
  • Flag of Our Fathers for the Iraq generation
    Though it feels, at times, like an MTV video, this seems like a sincere attempt to show what some of today's soldiers go through when they are forced to return to Iraq after one, or sometimes, two tours, against their wills. Graphic violence in the beginning, and it pervades the middle sections when it seems like violence will erupt any minute as the boys take a little time off in Brazos, Tx. Good looking cast. Nothing wrong with this one as entertainment....more info
  • Well Done!!
    There are films that make you feel you wasted your time, films you leave in the middle of or at the beginning because of the lack of content, this is NOT one of them. This film will get GREAT reviews or it will get bad ones from those that would once again vote for the guy with "W" as a middle name. You will love it or hate it; there will not be a middle of the road on this one. Let's leave the politics out of it folks, this is a film that does not pull at you, it yanks your heart right out of your chest if you have one - I left it feeling human because it moved me, and made me THINK. President John F. Kennedy once said to 5 Nobel laureates having dinner in the White House that there had never been so much intelligence gathered at one time in this room with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dinned alone (I would have given the credit to his friend and spiritual guide John Adams but let's leave that for another day). One of Thomas Jefferson's best known quotes - "Those that would give up their freedoms in the name of SAFETY and SECURITY will be neither SAFE nor SECURE and certainly not free. The current policies of this country have fed on the American obsession with our personal safety, maybe we should listen to one of our founding fathers. AS a 26 year fire fighter veteran - I think there is a time to leave a burning building because staying and dying is not going to accomplish anything. ...more info
  • Stop-Loss...Violation of Contract
    An excellent attempt at trying to inform citizens of how our soldiers are used as fodder after being guaranteed of discharge after serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the length of service they contracted to serve. This movie shows how a GI returning home for discharge is lied to and ordered back to Iraq, under the Stop-Loss program. Just in case those reading this think it is unpatriotic of me not to agree with violating a serviceman's contracted voluntary enlistment, my background is one of having retired after 20 years in the Air Force, as a Fighter Pilot who flew two one year combat tours in Vietnam. Another example of a war we were lied to about, insofar as the reason we fought, and over 58,000 died fighting....more info
  • 3 1/2 Stars: Stars and Stripes
    Director Kimberly Peirce's last film was the revolutionary, emotionally-charged and truthful "Boy's Don't Cry" with the galvanizing performance of Hilary Swank. That was over 8 years ago and now she has returned with the Iraq War drama, `Stop-Loss" starring a coterie of edgy, hot young actors.
    Oddly enough, I think that almost all of the Iraq War based dramas like the recent "Rendition" have been failures at the box office which leads me to wonder, why?
    Perhaps, since it is literally happening now, it is too current: the wounds are opening daily with no healing in sight. At the very least, We as Americans are conflicted about our involvement in Iraq.
    Peirce has chosen to use the Iraq War as a background onto which she bases her drama with Universal themes of: Where do I fit in? Where do I belong? Do I belong?
    Working here with co-writer Mark Richard, Peirce has found a subject in the way the war in Iraq is tearing apart many of its soldiers, in combat and when they return home. This is a wrenching story of men at arms who cannot find peace outside the military circle, who return to civilian life on the horrific edge of violence and despair. This point of view is of course not new, going back at least as far as William Wyler's "The Best Year's of Our Lives" and Michael Cimino's "The Deer Hunter." War is Hell: this we all know and can empathize with but the aftermath, the coming home, the re-adjusting to Life after War is worse.
    Several actors shine here: primarily the Brandon King of Ryan Phillipe (whose stop-loss forced re-enlistment forms the backbone of this film) and the Michele of Abbie Cornish who basically steals the film from under all her hot shot male cast members with her persuasive, thoughtful and totally believable performance.
    There are several scenes in "Stop Loss" which approach and sometimes go over the edge into hokiness but overall, this film has a real emotional life: these are characters who emote from a real place, a place that it is obvious that Peirce believes in, invests in and ultimately it is the saving grace of this flawed, yet sock-in-the-gut experience film.
    ...more info
  • Uncle Sam's welcome home
    "Stop-loss" is a term coined by the government for a particularly cruel practice, namely the arbitrary rescinding of a soldier's exit from the war theater. Supposedly only employable in times of war, it has been used during the Iraq-Afghani conflict to maintain strong numbers of troops in high-risk areas. The soldier, apparently, has no warning of the fact that he is stop-lossed until processing his papers to get out and go home. This, at least, is what happens to the protagonist in this movie.

    The film does not dwell on the battles in Iraq, although it begins there, introducing us to a bunch of good-old-boy young men from the same small town in Texas, who have been together for a long time in Iraq and are used to thinking as a unit and looking out for each other. It shows them during the excruciating boredom of down-time, and then leads us through a terrible encounter in the crowded, narrow streets of a town in Iraq, skirmishing with snipers and terrorists, and leaves nothing to the imagination about the cruelties of war.

    Shortly thereafter, it shows the boys coming home, for what they think is for good. Ryan Phillippe, in a strong performance as the sergeant of the unit, is broadsided by the news that he is being almost immediately shipped back to Iraq, and he understandably protests vehemently. His superior, considering him a flight risk by his demeanour, orders him escorted to the stockade, and in a chance moment of opportunity while being marched to transport, he disables his guards and escapes.

    His plan after his escape is to take the unfairness and seeming illegality of his enforced reenlistment straight to some politician who can effect change, but one feels from the start that it is a bit like the mouse that roared; government is government, and is impervious to chiding from a nonentity like an inconvenienced soldier. His efforts are altruistic; he is not trying to bring justice just for himself, but for all the soldiers who come home expecting to get married, take a job as a car salesman, and try to forget the horrors of war. It's plain, however, that he is up against an immovable force.

    There have been some strong, well-acted, and well-presented films of late on the Iraq conflict and/or its effect on the young people who go there believing, no doubt, that they can make a difference. Certainly some difference is made, but the toll it takes on the psyches of those in conflict is dire and sad. I grew up during the Viet Nam War, and do not profess to know the extent of damage that conflict made on those involved - heavy, I know - but war is war, and no one involved emerges unscathed, I am sure. It is made clear in Stop-Loss that idealism is quickly stripped away, and despair becomes endemic.

    Strongly acted by all participants, and Ryan Phillippe in particular deserves kudos. ...more info
  • Stop Loss by Brandon
    This movie was o.k. I thought it would be better than it was. The story was good and so were the actors, but it had too many cliches and the movie was too drawn out. Average....more info
  • A DVD review...
    On every forum I visited this week any reviews about the content of S/L turn into a nightmarish swath of spite both ways. In watching this I just wanted to see how the DVD came across, maybe see if any special features explained the process.

    Performances were solid for the film that it was. It had similar beginnings and content as the Four Horsemen, Home of the Brave, Redacted and a variety of Iraq military pieces. The transfer looked good, the sound was mixed to 5.1.

    The making-of docu was 23 minutes long and centered on the theme of "getting it right". The cast and crew were subjected to long hours of training to try and facilitate the themes of what our soldiers are going through, here and in Iraq. The commentaries provide more of the same content but with even more in-depth explanations. The 10 minute clip titled "Boot Camp" shows what the regimen/training was for the actors in getting prepared, physically and cohesively as a group, to fill their roles. The 11 deleted scenes were frustrating for me (as always) since you could tell in the film where items had been cut. The usual director excuse of "advancing the story" seemed invalid for what this film was about. The ones she removed that she "really liked" would have made things much clearer, especially for certain story lines that were left hanging.

    This was a tough film to watch, and I have heard a spattering of likes and dislikes about authenticity, realism, etc. But I would say to give the DVD version a chance. Maybe try to watch all of the extras if you have concerns about how they came to certain conclusions or performed certain actions (they interview and show the military advisers used). If anything, the docus show the Alamo set still being used today for filming and training (I thought it had been torn down).

    I have liked RP since his role in Crash, and he is convincing here. Channing Tatum filled the soldier type very well. His upcoming role in GI Joe as Duke will be perfect for him. JG Levitt can be better seen in Brick or Lookout. Abbie Cornish's role is questionable, and it is hard to tell (in the last scene) what she was really all about. Some critics seem to think this is an important film "touching greatness" (cover), but I say just give it a watch to see some filler acting by the cast. ...more info
  • Stop - loss
    My order came in on time and the DVD was awesome. All in All it was good....more info
  • Better than people say it is!
    I thought this was a great film with a great cast. I heard alot of people didn't like it, and I can't understand why. It's very moving, and keeps you involved from beginning to end. Definitly worth seeing....more info
  • This movie is one of a kind!
    I actually thought that this would be just another war movie. I was wrong. It's actually not a war movie at all. This is simply a story about a soldier that has done his time in Iraq and the same country he's just fought for refuses to let him leave. I had no idea this was going on. Thank-God i decided not to join the military. I always hated the fact that the army acts as if they own the troops. They are not property of the United States, they are defenders of our country. Ryan Phillippe gives one of the best performences of his career. I believe he's one of the most underated actors in hollywood. This movie is definately a must see. ...more info
  • Boys do not cry
    It's one of the most realistic movies of Iraq war and simply a dramatic story of an impact Iraq does on soldiers and a modern American society.

    One could sometimes feel Texas streets were more dangerous than Iraq's ones.

    It is hardly anti-war movie also none wants to die, which is natural.
    ...more info
  • phenomenal performances by the cast
    Great cinematic realism, phenomenal performances by the cast ensemble, a story well-crafted with solid psychological analysis and depth, and an absolutely powerful, emotional, and heart-wrenching film to watch! It's a film that cries out in "Support of Our Troops". ...more info
  • I'm getting out!...(not)
    Director Kimberly Peirce ("Boys Don't Cry") brings another powerfully charged film of such raw emotion that upon later reflection of the movie I felt like I had witnessed real events.


    Stop-Loss follows the fictional story of a soldier, Brandon King (Ryan Philippe), who has returned home after a tour in Iraq. His contract is up and he just about to get out when he is stop-lossed (a "fine-print" section in all soldiers' contracts that gives the President the power to extended soldier's contracts in time of war). He refuses to be shipped back to Iraq, and goes AWOL in search of his state's senator for help. What follows is his road trip to fight the stop-loss as well as showing the devastating affects his fellow soldiers (Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt) experience from the horrible war. Its' acting, directing, and writing had such a feeling of authenticity, and combined with the fact that 81,000 of our brave soldiers have already been stop-lossed since Spetember 11,2001, this film feels like a true story.


    One thing that made this film succeed so well was it's director was a woman, and she was able to make a movie were you could feel and see the emotions these guys were feeling even as they would desperately try and mask them.


    The acting was extraordinary from the three main soldiers, most notably Ryan Philippe who is so gritty and real in his performance that he seems like he actually is a marine. Channing Tatum gives a genuine performance, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt's is the most haunting of the trio as a soldier who fights his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with excessive amounts of booze and slowly slips into a deep hole of despair.


    This films is not a propaganda piece, it simply portrays something that is going on right now. It brings up many good points, but never bashes you with a certain viewpoint but leaves it to you to decide. This is such emotionally powerful, deeply moving film, the best film I have seen since the year started, and destined to be one of my favorites from this year.
    ...more info
  • "Stop Loss" has honored the courageous service of our soldiers
    Every man, woman, and child in America should see this film. It will, in time, I believe, go down as one of the all-time great American urban-warfare movies.

    To be sure, there was no scarcity of fodder to feed anti-war political rhetoric throughout most of the 113 minutes of the film.

    The two most memorable scenes, for me were:

    1. When Sgt. Brandon King, sought to reverse his "Stop Loss Upon Orders of the President of the United States of America" by appealing to the fairness of his Commanding Officer, he was sternly reminded that the President's Order superseded his own. King's response of "F**k the President of the United States, respectfully, Sir!", brought loud cheers, whistles, and applause from many, NOT ALL, in the theater audience.

    2. Sgt. Brandon King entered a building in which the enemy combatants had fled. He heard gunfire, then the cries from his advance man, two floors above, that he had been shot. Though wounded, he was warning King, apprising him of the location and number of enemy in the building. Sgt. King fought his way, taking out the enemy, room by room, until he reached his soldier's position. When he found his wounded comrade, he saw, standing before him, an Iraqi appearing to be frightened, holding a boy of 5 or 6 years in his arms. The "Haji" extended his arm from behind the boy, held him like a shield, then dropped a grenade in a suicidal attempt to kill himself, the boy, King and his wounded comrade. Thanks to quick reflexes, King was able to save himself and his soldier; the Iraqi man and boy perished in the blast.

    This, for me, was an epiphany, the defining moment. I knew then, without reservation, that The War Against Terror is a war we must win. Forget about all the reasons why we are in this war or why we shouldn't be in it. It's too late for polemics; we're in it and there's no turning back the clock. It's kill or be killed.

    As of this moment, what we had thought was a winding down of hostilities, a successful "Surge," was merely a regrouping strategy by the enemy. Fighting has resumed "Big Time," and in areas we had come to believe were calm. Complacency is, indeed, the vacation land of fools.

    Americans, with the exception of family and friends of soldiers, have become disconnected from the war. They have become like the spiritually exhausted women of T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock," those who only "come and go Talking of Michelangelo."

    We are fighting a many-headed Hydra with one intention and many names: "Army of the Mahdi," "Militia," "Insurgents," "Al Qaeda," "Shia," "Sunni," "Sufi," etc. One or another of them pretends to temporarily ally with us, but are, in truth, a "Judas" in our midst, a thumb opposing four fingers, but they are one hand.

    We are in mortal combat with Evil; make no mistake about it. Islam is not a peaceful religion, its entire motivation is Jihad. It always has been a terrorist religion since before June 8, 632 A.D.

    Islam and Terrorism are synonymous.

    Islam has always been about murderous conquest. In 732 A.D. the Mediterranean Sea was, for all intents and purposes, a Muslim Lake.

    If not for Charles "The Hammer" Martel winning the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D., which has traditionally been characterized as THE decisive world historical event, since it preserved western Europe from Muslim conquest and Islamization, you might very well be reading this in Arabic at this moment.

    The time has come to take the gloves off and purge the world of this monstrous Evil of Islamofascism forevermore, not in a war of attrition, but one of annihilation.

    If we do not prosecute this war with every means available to us now, there will be no one to fight for us in the future. The two, three, four, and five tour volunteers are exhausted, bravely fighting on, though wounded in mind and body.

    Soon, over 70,000 American soldiers will begin to suffer the Vietnam Era Agent Orange Syndrome as a result of exposure to Depleted Uranium. What will be your fate when this "Thin Red Line" of courage is no longer able to withstand the Forces of Evil?

    George Santayana's admonition,"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.", is more true today than ever....more info
  • Testing Beliefs
    "Stop-Loss"

    Testing Beliefs

    Amos Lassen

    "Stop-Loss" is a powerful film about the nature of bravery and doing the right thing while facing death in the process. It also looks at patriotism and honor. In today's army in America these are not hypothetical ideas but the basis of character.
    "Stop-Loss" tells the story of a group of soldiers from Texas who come home from Iraq. Just before they leave the Middle East, they are involved in an ambush that kills three of them members. Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe), the squad leader, feels responsible for the deaths and he plans to leave the service when he gets back home. However, when Brandon turns in his gear and his paperwork, he is informed that he is to return to Iraq on a stop-loss which he contests on the spot. He had no choice in his own mind but to go AWOL in order to find a way not to return to the war. He decides that the best thing to do is to convince his local Senator to help him and as he runs, his conscience begins to bother him. When he meets the family of one of his dead men, he learns about people who could get soldiers through to Canada. He then goes to see another of his comrades who was seriously wounded and he realizes that he is facing the hardest decision that he will ever have to make.
    What is unique about the film is that it does not take sides. It is pro-soldier and we cannot help but like the guys and we want them to find both happiness and safety. We do see that the coming home process is not easy for them and tensions flare and explode. We see and feel the emotions of the men and the film portrays what is happening right now. It never tries to bring home a point and leaves it to the viewer to make his own decisions.
    The casting is what makes this film. Phillippe gives a performance that is complex and earnest and he amazes. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is ferocious and gives his finest performance yet and Tatum Channing is wonderful. Abbie Cornish as a young woman in love with an impossible man almost manages to steal the movie.
    "Stop-Loss" deals with soldiers as people and the director, Kimberly Pierce (a female incidentally), sees the military differently and therefore gives us a different view altogether.
    This is a serious film and some may find it depressing but that is perhaps how we should feel when we think about the war in Iraq. The movie is about what we have been trying to ignore but should be paying close attention to. The war does not let the soldiers go and those that have been in it have to live with it during their entire lives.
    ...more info
  • Boys Do Cry
    Kimberly Pierce's last movie was "Boys Don't Cry," starring Hilary Swank who gave a critically acclaimed performance. Now eight years later Pierce directs "Stop-Loss, the term used to describe the military's sending soldiers back to battle when they have just finished one combat tour of duty. I am not sure what I was expecting but I got more than I bargained for as apparently did the other members of the audience from both my and their reactions. They ranged from audible sobs that began almost immediately after the film began, to groans to one man's comment sitting near me of "damn this country." Although I have never seen "Saving Private Ryan" but know of the first 20 minutes or so of the violent depiction of battle in that film, I cannot fathom, however, that it is rawer and bloodier than the first few minutes of "Stop-Loss." The violence and bloodshed are relentless, and the battle scenes are shot as if they were done by an amateur with a hand-held video camera.

    The acting is impeccable; the cinematography --by Chris Menges-- is extraordinary. The film essentially belongs to Ryan Phillipe who plays Sgt. Brandon King-- although there are no bad performances--, recently having returned to his hometown in Texas after completing a tour of duty in Iraq where he lost several of his men. On the day that he is to have been discharged, he learns that he has been reassigned to Iraq. Rather than return to combat, he goes AWOL and does a cross-country drive to Washington with his friend Michelle played by Abbie Cornish in another first-class performance. They in their naivete initially believe that their senator will be able to help them.

    I am not sure what the director wanted to achieve. Supposedly she made the movie out of anger over her brother's experience as a soldier in Iraq. If she wanted to show the horror of war, she more than accomplished her mission. The violence and the heartwrenching fate of the soldiers, both in and after combat, begin in the first frames of the film and never abate. The nadir of this movie-- although several events come close-- occurs when King, on his way to D. C., visits his forever-maimed buddy in a hospital. The soldier's optimism-- is he whistling in the dark-- in such overwhelming adversity-- will tear your heart out.

    Upon leaving the theatre, I wondered if this film would have any effect on anyone. The hawks and doves probably will not change their positions on the Iraq War. On the other hand, conventional wisdom says that sometimes art does make a difference. The novel UNCLE TOM'S CABIN we are told influenced how people felt about slavery. And recently much was made by the media as to whether "Saturday Night Live's depiction of Hillary Clinton's unfair treatment by the media with a capital "M" would in any way have an impact on voters.

    If nothing else, this film stands for the proposition that indeed boys-- even grown men-- do cry, as evidenced both by the men in "Stop-Loss" and the men in the audience....more info
  • Excellent Movie!
    A great movie to see if you want a fun understanding of what this terrible war is doing to the troupes. Gut-wrenching and heart-felt. ...more info