I just watched Robert Redford’s critically derided ‘Lions for Lambs‘, just to check it out and make up my own mind. I just couldn’t believe the critics that tore this film apart in mid air. There had to be some redeeming feature? I mean, this is a movie critical of the U.S. invasion in Iran and Afghanistan, mocking neocons and tearing into the complacent liberal establishment for letting it all happen. What could be wrong with it?
I don’t even know where to start. I was expecting a dialogue -centred movie on the level of a good West Wing episode, but everything was so clichee ridden that it hurt. Tom Cruise’s neocon Republican Senator was sprouting so many ridiculous soundbites and Bushism’s that he just as well could have a been a youtube collection of the worst Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney quotes ever. These guys might speak like that in front of the cameras, but hardly in private. And Cruise looked like a pale imitation of TIm Matheson’s Vice President in The West Wing on autopilot.
Meryl Streep, as a liberal, formerly brillant journalist who had sold her soul to her shallow network looked just bored, and Robert Redford, as a liberal Californian political science professor who got his favourite student in to discuss political activism was plainly embarassing.
So, we have a well meaning movie from a previously impressive director with a bundle of some of the most bankable actors ever that tanked because its scriptwriter dropped the ball and its director was too bored to properly engaged his actors.
Maybe Matthew Michael Carnahan, the scriptwriter, maybe should have watched all seven series of the West Wing (or even Yes, Minister) before turning his attention to ‘Lions for Lambs’.
Unfortunately, as much as I wanted it to work, it didn’t.
A wasted opportunity.