Jul 14, 2017

[Movies] War Machine (2017) Review

So even I was a little impressed when Netflix start promoting War Machine as it represented a movie project with some seriously notable acting talent involved - primarily Brad Pitt. Netflix threw around some serious weight to assemble the team behind this and then later the marketing push to make sure people knew about it and all that fun stuff.

I wasn't sure how to feel about this movie coming into it since it as a war movie but somehow a sort of black comedy / satirical piece about the war effort. And yet the whole thing didn't exactly get me laughing my head off at any more nor did feel the urge to flash a wry smile about life truly being funny in that aspect.

As a major Netflix production effort (and something with a star as big as Brad Pitt has to be pretty big to some extent), I think it's only fair to expect a lot from this movie. But in the end, it fell way short of expectations to the degree that I didn't really enjoy this movie or see the humor that was supposed to define it.

Not fun at all.

Synopsis: War Machine is a 2017 American satirical war movie written and directed by David Michôd. The screenplay was based on the nonfiction book The Operators by Michael Hastings and premiered on Netflix back in May.

The movie centers around Four Star General Glenn McMahon (Brad Pitt), who is sent to "win" the war in Afghanistan as the commander of NATO forces there. McMahon is supposed to have a reputation for being a charismatic problem solver who knows how to make the best use of what he's given but of course the situation in the country is a lot more complicated than one or two engagements followed by a negotiation of terms.

The movie also covers other aspects of the way including McMahon's unique team that he assembles to support him in Afghanistan and his tour of Europe where he tries to sell NATO countries on his methodology for dealing with the problem that is the terrorists in this country. Cue notable guest starts and all that good stuff and you have this movie.

What I Liked: This movie really has some interesting starts and you can totally ignore Brad Pitt at this point. Tilda Swinton is the biggest scene-stealer as a German reporter who of course has the most hard-hitting questions to ask. Even Ben Kingsley was in this project and had a fun time portraying Aghanistan leader President Karzai in a manner that was both accurate and ridiculous. Brad Pitt was  definitely one of the nuttiest of them all.

The final act of the movie has some rather serious military action that was depicted quite well. I wasn't expecting that from a movie that positioned itself as a sort of comedy take on things but really, some great depiction of the sort of urban clearing operations that the US military would get into together with local Afghani forces.

What Could Have Been Better: Oh where to begin? While the movie isn't a straight up comedy, it s positioned as a satire of sorts and that didn't really carry through. Kingsley and Swinton clearly acted in this movie as if it were a farce and they had fun with their roles. Maybe how ridiculous Brad Pitt was had the notion of this being comedic in mind - the final product just didn't get all the way to that level.

The movie is very dry, slow-paced and many times outright boring despite the involvement of folks like Topher Grace in a highly forgettable role. The action at the end doesn't quite make up for all the crap that comes before it and the plodding pace of things. I don't how how they wanted this movie to become a satire apart from a weird depiction of real events with somewhat lazy name changes and the like.

TL;DR: Well, your monthly Netflix subscription comes with this movie whether you like it or not - at least you don't have to pay extra to see it. And really, you're better of skipping this unless you're a big nerd about the US presence in Afghanistan and can somehow glean humor from this movie. Thus it only gets 1 sad terrorist in the desert out of a possible 5.

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