Monday, April 7, 2008
Subtlety is not something found in abundance in Kimberly Peirce's Stop-Loss. For some reason it seems statistically unlikely to me that a squad in Iraq, made up of 10 guys, from which only four survive (the 4 survivors all hailing from the same Texas town): one maimed to the point of looking like the villain in Ridley Scott's Hannibal and the other three emotionally destroyed by the war and suffering from heavy levels of PTSD. Phillippe, an actor I really liked in Flags of Our Fathers and Breach , hits all the notes he's supposed to hear but something about his performance rang false to me. I can't quite put a finger on why exactly but I just couldn't buy a number of moments in the film. Channing Tatum, who starred in Step-Up, is not a good actor and doesn't deserve his role. Abbie Cornish is bland at best. Two performances stood out, Victor Rasuk, who takes center stage in the films most affecting and effective scene, when Phillippe visits his aforementioned maimed comrade in the military hospital. His performance is effective and quite moving. Note also goes to Joseph Gordon-Levitt who has come a hell of a long way since 3rd Rock from the Sun and gives the most believable performance of the shell shocked vets. The ending didn't work for me at all to boot. To be honest, I'm not sure what's wrong with these new Iraq/Middle East movies but I don't blame audiences for staying away. The films all tend far more towards preaching and melodrama than is necessary, it occurs to me that some distance, however slight, might be necessary to make more effective films on this stage of American history.
Overall Score: 4/10