Lions For Lambs

With a release date perfectly timed for the Thanksgiving weekend, Lions for Lambs is just that, a giving thanks to the American government and for the soldiers willing to trust their lives to strategies laid out by politicians they will never know. But this film is a border fox, playing both sides of the fence at once.

It begins with a deeply patriotic note as reporter Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) is invited into the office of Republican Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise) to receive a private briefing on the U.S. government’s new military plan to take control of the snow covered Afghanistan mountains. Irving gives Roth a full hour of his time, detailing his plan. Flattered at first, Roth becomes skeptical, reminiscing about the Vietnam War and deceptive political promises.

Meanwhile, as Roth, increasingly uncomfortable with the situation, parries with Irving, the offensive has already begun. Top college students Ernest (Michael Pena) and Arian (Derek Luke) have chosen to be in the adventure, rather than discuss it from afar. So strong is their belief in the American system that they are willing to die for it if necessary.

In the cold starry night, their helicopter flies over the Afghanistan mountains. When one falls out onto the icy plateau, the other jumps after him. All the while, their former professor Stephen Malley (Robert Redford), holds a one hour private discussion with a smart but apathetic student, Todd Hayes (Andrew Garfield), encouraging him to take a stand, to make a commitment to his future, to at least attend class.

Flashback to a class debate, in which Ernest and Arian were so inspired by their professor that they announce their decision to join the army. Stunned, Malley tries to dissuade them, but he has already done his job too well. Senator Irving gets a phone call, informing him of the two young men wounded and stranded on the snowy mountain top, surrounded by Afghanistan soldiers. Roth smells a rat and remembering that her articles of praise helped put Irving into power, begins to doubt the ethics of writing this top story.

Moments of superb and subtle acting, particularly by Streep, occasionally by Cruise and Redford, save this movie from the dullness of a political essay, a polite game of badminton to observe over a soothingly safe cup of coffee. Dropped in the pressure cooker, Ernest, Arian, Roth and Hayes must each make a choice. Most telling is Roth’s decision, making this movie a distinctly patriotic antiwar statement.

Lions for Lambs
Release Date: November 9, 2007
Genre: Drama/War
Runtime: 88 min.
Rating: R – violence
Cast: Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Robert Redford
Director: Robert Redford
Stars: 4

More in

Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.