I don't think I'm categorically opposed to war movies, but I want them to actually figure out what the hell they're trying to say and just say it. And I got the feeling that this movie just couldn't make up it's mind. Were the guys there because they wanted to be? Because if they were, they did a damn fine job undercutting that. Jake G.'s character starts with a heavy handed narrative about how he didn't want to be there. He's got stomach problems, he can't decide if the regiment he's in is cool, and he'd rather be a bugle player than a sharpshooter. Were they drafted into it, lured by false promises of military advertising slogans and the fact that there's no real job market in the US? Don't ask me, and don't ask them, because there's a whole bit about how you'd never get to see things like burning oil fields if you weren't in the military. Oh, and there's the whole "Jake G begins to LOVE his gun" thing that almost got creepy, but then backed away.
And what was with the guy reading Camus? Because, honestly, there was not a signel existential thought in the whole thing. At least, I'm fairly sure there wasn't.
Maybe I have been watching too much French film - that's what I told everyone last night when they were surprised I didn't like it. But dear gods - all of the great cinematography from the commercials? That's it. That's the only good stuff in the movie. If you've seen the extended preview, you've seen the best stuff in the film. And, sadly, the emotional tension they create in the trailer is watered down so much in the movie that all I could do was think to myself "hey, look, that was in the trailer too..."
hmmm, I wonder if their story boards sucked and they had just one decent camera guy who was there for a couple of weeks, and then some bonehead for the rest of the time, and this is what they were left with?
Part of my problem is that they just didn't follow through with anything. Jake's supposed to go crazy in the middle half of the movie, from being stuck out in the sand and the heat, because he's worried his girlfriend is cheating on him and he doesn't have anything to do ... and I honestly was bored out of my mind, waiting for the crazy to kick in. At the point where he has his "uber crazy" moment and holds the gun up to another guy's head, I was just hoping his finger would slip on the trigger. THAT would've given us something to think about. Instead he gets confronted by his trigger partner and told that he's fucked up, and he does the manly half-cry and apologizes to the poor traumatized guy he threatened, and that's that.
The third act -- the "We've Gone To War" act -- was woefully lacking in the same damn way. Oh, sure, there were some encounters with bodies, some exciting vomiting, some good 'getting covered in oil that's raining down from the heavens' (and the totally *annoying* continuity error that they were dry in the next shot even though they've still got the burning oil going on behind them... just closer), an exciting and totally UN-symbolic horse covered in oil that trots by when Jake's out on his own, and some quasi-pretty shots of him scrambling around on the dunes, but ... good lord, NOTHING gets complicated. Nothing gets confused. Nothing goes ... anywhere.
So, yeah, not my cup of tea at all. Bummer, really, because I was hoping it might be interesting.