“War Machine” Proves To Be A Ho-Hum Affair



Title: War Machine
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Posted June 2, 2017 by

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We’ve all seen that person that tries everything to fit into a social setting they’re not naturally inclined to be a part of. Whether it’s trying to be too angry, too happy, too funny, or too crazy, I know I’ve been around a lot of people that did things that left me thinking, “Just be yourself and everything would be a lot better”. That’s how I felt about Netflix’s new Brad Pitt-led film “War Machine” based off of the novel by Michael Hastings. It’s trying so hard to be this quirky comedy/political satire that it lands in this awkward space of being uncomfortably weird but just interesting enough to keep watching.

Brad Pitt plays Gen. Glen McMahon – a decorated war hero that has never seen a challenge he didn’t want to attack head-on. After years of troops being in Afghanistan and with the President ready to bring them back home, Gen. McMahon is sent to deal with the situation as it is and do so with very little help. Letting his ego come before anything else, McMahon feels he can lead the disillusioned and tired troops to victory yet it isn’t until he sees firsthand what the situation is really like that he realizes this is a war that has no real end — at least not in the way he was thinking.

The thing about this film is everyone — aside from Topher Grace. He always just plays Topher Grace — is some over-acted caricature that offers really nothing to the overall story. You have Brad Pitt doing a half-hearted impression of Sling Blade while actors like Anthony Michael Hall and Ben Kingsley play awkwardly stupid characters that actually make Pitt’s performance seem almost normal. There’s one scene in particular with Pitt and Kingsley where they both appear to be competing at whose character is the most ludicrous that was so bad I had to look away for a moment. If there really was a competition, I would just like to say for the record that I think Kingsley won. But there are more scenes of that tone than not and that’s what makes this film feel like a waste of time. For most of the film you’re just left with these flawed, terrible characters and that made for an unenjoyable movie experience.

The only bright spot is the story about a group of marines led by Will Poulter’s Ricky Ortega. Here are these young men who have grown tired of trying to figure out who is trying to kill them and who is just a scared civilian; beaten down by trying to do something bigger than themselves but constantly handicapped by their own government around every turn. While they’re just waiting to leave, they find themselves suddenly being led by a gung-ho Gen. McMahon and have to come to terms with their disillusionment of the whole situation and their duty as United States Marines. Their story is easily the most interesting, the most engaging, and the most authentic yet we only get a small glimpse of them and the situation they’re dealing with. It’s a sever tonal shift for the film but one that actually got me interested. I just wish the whole film would have been about them and what they were going through. But, once again, “War Machine” is trying so hard to be different that it leaves them where we found them — out in the middle of nowhere — before we continue on with McMahon’s story.

The comedy falls flat, many of the characters are borderline hateable, and the best part of the film is also the shortest. I kept thinking something was going to happen; that it was surely going to get better. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. This is one of the instances where big names and familiar faces can’t turn a bad script into a good movie.




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