Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is about a fictional Iraq war hero. It is like the Iraq war itself. It starts with hope and promise, and then becomes a misdirected mess that feels like it is never going to end. Billy Lynnn’s Long Halftime Walk somehow combines an anti-war theme with a clumsily pro-military propaganda film and tops that off with an absurdly over-the-top football halftime show. The combination is as bad as it sounds.
There are some good moments in the film. Kirsten Stewart is excellent as Bill Lynn’s sister Kathryn. She is the only one who seems to notice the toll the war has taken on her brother. Everyone else just sees him as a hero but she is concerned about him as a person. Unfortunately, despite getting top billing, Kirsten Stewart is not on screen for most of the movie.
The scenes in Iraq are also excellent. Vin Diesel is terrific as the combat Sergeant they all call “Shroom” since his philosophy of life is so odd. He is a man trying to live the life of a Hindu philosopher in a combat zone. He believes there is no point in fearing death since the bullet that is going to kill you “has already been fired.”
But most of the movie take place in a football stadium where Billy Lynn and the rest of Bravo Squad are being honored at the halftime show. The team is obviously supposed to be the Dallas Cowboys but the producers use a fictional team name and stadium. The team owner (Norm) is played by Steve Martin and this is the only bad performance we have ever seen him give.
Steve Martin’s Texas accent is just awful and he completely overplays the stereotype of an aggressive, evil Texas businessman. That is very strange, considering that Steve Martin was actually born in Waco Texas. However, he did move to California when he was five.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is insulting to Texans in general. They are portrayed as ignorant fools who praise the soldiers but in fact have no real respect for the soldier’s sacrifices.
Then comes the actual halftime walk. The big moment the film has been leading up to. Bravo company stands on stage while fireworks go off, scantly clad girls dance around them, bands play etc. This scene goes on and on and on. It is loud, badly filmed and is supposed to drill home that civilians do not understand the real sacrifices that soldiers make. But the movie has already made that point, over and over and over.
There is also a ridiculously rushed love story between Billy (Joe Alwyn) and a cheerleader (Makenzie Leigh). The main purpose of these scenes seems to be to show a beautiful actress in her skimpy cheerleader outfit as much as possible.
The camera work was also awful. There are several times where the actors are talking directly to the camera which is about three inches from their faces. Supposedly the movie was originally going to be in 3D but then was changed to 2D. That may account for the strange cinematography. This bad camera work is very unfortunate, considering that director Ang Lee is known for his beautiful movies like Life of Pi.
We are not sure exactly what Ang Lee was trying for with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Whatever it was did not work.
- We Rate Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Two Stars **
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