Home of the Brave

TANK GIRL Biel is battle-fatigued.
TANK GIRL Biel is battle-fatigued.

Time Out says

Wars have inspired superb movies about veterans readjusting to society, among them the WWII drama The Best Years of Our Lives and the Vietnam tragedy The Deer Hunter, which won a combined 12 Oscars (including Best Picture for both). Judging from the silver-screen quagmire Home of the Brave, though, the current Iraq War will have to wait for its own epic.

Producer-turned-director Irwin Winkler insists on championing weak, literal-minded scripts and turning them into bathetic displays of human emotion (De-Lovely, Life as a House), or somnambulant suspense dramas (The Net, Guilty by Suspicion). Here he strikes again, with a painfully overwrought quartet of soldiers—including a drunk (Jackson) and an amputee (Biel)—trying to reintegrate into their mundane Oregon lives. Each encounters the others in a series of awkwardly written vignettes (“You watch the History Channel? I love the History Channel!”), all of which coalesce into a cluster of miniclimaxes either too bland or too preposterous to take seriously.

The domestic trauma is peppered with chaotic flashbacks to red-zone conflict, which is hardly explained well, let alone earned dramatically, and by default becomes the worst sort of cinematic shorthand for the shell-shocked warrior. Earnest but lazy, fitfully laughable and insulting, Home of the Brave is cowardly work. (Opens Fri 15; AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13.) — Stephen Garrett



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