Time Out says
Here, conflicted blue-collar manhood is represented by Sergeant Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe), a chiselled-chinned natural leader, and his brothers-in-arms, strapping sniper Shriver (Channing Tatum) and puppyish ne’er-do-well Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). After a tense, tightly constructed Tikrit firefight and some YouTube-style clips of profane aggro-bonhomie among the soldiers, the guys return home to small-town Texas, where they’re showered with ticker-tape parades and bathe themselves in alcohol. Soon enough, Shriver is digging a trench – or is that a grave? – in the front yard, Tommy is ploughing his car into inanimate objects and a shocked Brandon is ‘stop-lossed’: shipped back to Iraq against his will.
The rest unfolds as a halting road movie: Brandon goes Awol in search of a potentially sympathetic US senator, with Shriver’s girl, Michelle (Abbie Cornish), inexplicably in tow. The film meanders from one melodramatic set piece to another (a cemetery-side throwdown is particularly unfortunate), while the resigned conclusion is disappointing on the level of both politics and drama. It’s the film equivalent of a weary shrug – capturing the national mood at a moment when we’d all prefer some mood enhancers.
Cast and crew
Matthew Scott Wilcox