Home of the Brave **
In the Oscar batch every year there's always that group of actors trying to make some kind of "uplifting" film that will hopefully push them out of the mindset that every viewer has about them. Maybe try and break free of the stereotypes that they have created for themselves with work from the past. Usually those films are about current events-issues that are effecting the world we live in today. And then usually, these films fail miserably. In 2006, "Home of the Brave" was that film. This is a film about the Iraq War, but it is as contrived and as obvious and as cliche ridden that it could have been about any war. Every single character here is a plot device to keep the story moving, and pretty much every acting job was overdone and corny. I really did roll my eyes so much that I got a headache after this was done. To begin with, there is no reason for this story to be told-even if the war was changed it is a pointless exercise, and something that we've seen and heard before.
"Home of the Brave" is about four different soldiers, who have all served in Iraq for quite some time now. There is Will Marsh, a doctor, Vanessa Price, Tommy Yates, and Jamal Aiken. On this fine day in Iraq they all find out that they are shipping out in two weeks time, and are finally going to be able to return home. Everybody makes their celebration phone calls-Vanessa calls up the daughter she hasn't seen in ages. "Mommy's coming home," she says. Little does she know that Mommy won't come back in one piece, and that might have been a little harsh. Then there is a call to bring some supplies to another section, and they need a group of soldiers and a doctor. Naturally, because this is movieland, all of our four hero's are selected. On the way they are attacked and have a big battle resulting in the death of a friend for Tommy, the death of an arm for Vanessa, killing an innocent woman for Jamel, and witnessing the horrors of war for Will. It's only natural that when they do return home, in Spokane(why Spokane of all places, I have no idea why) that it is difficult for them to resume their normal lives. Vanessa has a fake arm now, and finds it difficult to adjust to life. If she drops something, there is no way that she can pick it up with the hand. She ends a long term relationship with her boyfriend, and becomes somewhat mean and edgy. Jamel is doing down the wrong path, and looks as if he is minutes away from exploding. Tommy doesn't speak to anybody, and gets a job at the local movie theatre where he is able to sell tickets, separating himself from everybody by a bullet proof glass window in the box office. Will, on the other hand, has turned to drinking to cure what is bothering him, and pretty much everything upsets him. You should see what happens when his son comes home with a lip ring-probably one of the more painful things that could happen to a person. Is it possible for these people to somehow return to the normal lives they once had, before being victim to the horrors of war that have branded themselves into their brain?
I didn't care, really, because everybody here seemed as if they were written by the books. There was no depth to anybody at all. "Home of the Brave" played it safe by giving us characters that we've seen a million times before, and putting the viewer in situations that are so cliche and not effective. This was as melodramatic as something that you would see on a made for TV movie, and the writing was even made for TV quality. I could give it some credit for the exciting first reel or so, which was the battle that made everybody go off the deep end. I'll admit that some of it was more intense than "Days of Glory," another war masterpiece that was only given a week run for Oscar consideration. But then we spiral into the obvious, and into Spokane where the story is as dull as the amount of activities that you could probably do there(no offense to any Spokanes).
The acting is to the point of being horrible, but then again look at the cast. How could it not be? Samuel L. Jackson is here in a role that he shouldn't be in. Watching him try to be emotional was almost laughable, considering every single movie role in the past consists of him saying Mother-----. Jessica Biel continues her quest to be taken seriously, and even though she was halfway decent in "The Illusionist," here she is trying way to hard. Brian Presley as Tommy is new to me, but even he overacted most of the time, and then Curtis Jackson-50 Cent to some-is, well, he's 50 Cent. There's no way I can't look at him and take him seriously as an actor. "Home of the Brave" has its heart in the right place-I suppose director Irwin Winkler was trying his best to tell an effective anti-war story about the war in Iraq, but he missed the chance to do something powerful, and instead he did a "by the numbers" drama about what war does to people. This is a big missed opportunity. If war is hell, than "Home of the Brave" is next in line.
"Home of the Brave" was released for one week in the middle of December for Oscar consideration run. After pretty much nobody saw it, it was moved from its original release in January, and now I have no idea when it will be around. But it's not important, because when it is released you won't hear a peep out of it. It should slowly float away.