War has always intrigued people. Film directors and makers have used war as the central theme of their films as well as a side-concept that makes a difference to everyone in the fiction piece that they make. After 9/11, the politics of war became more prominent and some films concentrating on the political side of war were made. It’s only natural that such concepts come on the streaming screens – and we have one of the first of the lot – Brad Pitt’s War Machine. At close to a 90 minute run time, this is Netflix’s feature length film.
To understand what drives the film, one needs to understand the backdrop. The film is inspired from real life events that took place in America post 9/11. A celebrated army general was appointed to head the army in Afghanistan. Someone, somewhere, thought that it would be a good idea to have a Rolling Stone magazine journalist tag a man in uniform and write a feature about him. The scathing review had a the now well-known aftermath, the man was fired. That man was General Stanley Mc Chrystal, on whom is based the character Glen McMahon.
What’s Wow: Because the story is based on real life events, there’s not much to talk about the concept, but War Machine has a deeply emotional screenplay. It succeeds in having the audience connect with the characters and give them a better understanding of the political cocoon that surrounds any military and army in any part of the world.
The film counts some of the best performers in Hollywood in its cast and has incredibly understated performances. As the main protagonist, Brad Pitt has most of the screentime and rightly so. That guy is a revelation.
Few actors could have evolved the character from a comical, made-for-a-few laughs character to someone with all the layers of a memorable character.
Pitt’s character begins looking a comedy version of Sam Trautman from the Rambo series, but fills up as the film progresses. Everything’s there for the comparison, the cheek wring, the buzz cut, even the army beret seems just right on the heads of both these characters.
He begins as a man who thinks that he can set things right, but understands later in life the sheer helplessness of war. And Pitt doesn’t use great histrionics to show what his character experiences – but it’s all in that gaze of his.
Pitt just doesn’t play an army-man to perfection, he plays all men who are past their prime but trying to hang on to old glory. Some of the most heart-touching scenes from the film are when he interacts with his wife of 30 years.
War Machine is a stunning portrayal of politics that is a must-watch for the Y generation – a generation that’s always asking the question ‘Why’ and the Z generation, the generation that’s so self-obsessed that they seem to be zzzing, even when the world around them is crumbling.
It isn’t just Brad Pitt who’s given one of his best performances. Topher Grace seems to have finally shaked off the debacle that was Spider Man 3. Ben Kingsley seems to be the man to go to when you need to demolish previously held ideas of characters, both fictional and real. He played radically different Mandarin in Iron Man 3 and in War Machine, he etches out a completely different Hamid Karzai, the former Prime Minister of Afghanistan.
What’s Blah: Nothing
Parting Shot: Looking at the title, there is every chance that people are looking for a Brad Pitt actioner where he kills all the terrorists with his bare hands and emerges victorious. Though we’d love for Brad to do something like that, this is not that film.
Duration: 90 Minutes
Brad Pitt, Ben Kingsley, Tilda Swinton, Topher Grace
Directed By: David Michod
Netflix link – https://www.netflix.com/in/watch/80068327
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