This past holiday weekend many folks in the U.S. decided to hit the road and as they say “Live life to the fullest!” But yours truly however thought that sounded like a lot of work, so I decided to stay behind firmly planted on the couch. I ate a lot of good stuff, meaning I collected a lot of delicious cholesterol points, drank some beer and watched TV. I watched sporting events and some things on Netflix. One of the things that I saw was the Brad Pitt movie “War Machine”.
This film is based on the book “The Operators” by journalist Michael Hastings, the book is an expansion of a Rolling Stone Magazine article he wrote on General Stanley McChrystal, the men under his leadership and his job in the war in Afghanistan. If you know that story and how it unfolded, then you pretty much know how this movie goes but I don’t want to give everything away, so if you don’t know the story, I suggest you watch the film and then later look up the story behind it. The thing is the story behind it it’s much better than the film presented here.
The movie begins with Brad Pitt playing not General McChrystal but instead a character named General McMahon, I guess in order to avoid a lawsuit or some shit. As soon as Brad Pitt hits the screen I have to admit I was taken aback by what he was doing. Pitt seemed to be doing a caricature of a character instead of playing an actual part, like he was taking part in a Saturday Night Live skit. So I immediately assumed that the story and the movie was going to be more over-the-top and more satirical than I had originally thought but here’s the thing, no one in this movie is as over-the-top as Brad Pitt therefore for the rest of the movie, Brad Pitt seems to be in a completely different movie than everybody else. He is the main producer of this movie cause his production company is behind it, meaning he’s the boss, meaning nobody told him “Hey, what the fuck are you doing?!?!” I guess I was surprised because this is the kind of shit you expect from Nicolas Cage but not Pitt in a leading role. I eventually accepted what Pitt was doing but I imagine some folks are not going to be able to get past it.
Aside from Brad Pitt’s performance, the tone is not as over the top, so is not a complete satire & not a completely serious drama either. The film introduces Brad Pitt’s loyal team at the beginning but then they don’t spend the rest of the movie focusing on them as much as they should have cause they’re interesting characters. Also in the first hour, the film uses voice over narration but half way through it completely forgets about it. Needless to say when it comes to the tone of this picture, it does not mix very well.
Obviously when you deal with the war in Afghanistan & in the Middle East, it is impossible not to speak of politics. I bought the magazine issue this story is based on and I’m aware of the controversy that followed it. I always felt that the criticism towards General McChrystal was a little bit misguided. He did not initiate the war, it was not his decision to invade, he was brought in to try to clean up a mess and it was not his fault the President of the United States only talked to him once the entire time he was doing his job. It is the job of the commander-in-chief to talk to his generals, so if media darling Obama refused to do so, that is not the fault of those serving their country in harm’s way out there in the battlefield. That is politician bullshit, therefore the blame should fall on the politician’s lap.
The movie is not completely terrible, it has some good moments here and there & since it’s on Netflix, you ain’t got to leave the house and go through trouble in order to watch it. If you got a couple of hours to kill, maybe you’ll be entertained by this somewhat bizarre movie. So I’m giving this a middle-of-the-road recommendation, meaning it’s a TV movie & it’s just there for you to stream whenever you feel like it. It’s worth a look one time but there’s also not a big rush to get to it either cause it’s not that great. Btw, Netflix also has an original war movie titled Sand Castle that I reviewed that I happen to like better than this movie.
So I’m giving this movie a generous 5/10 just for the entertainment value of watching Brad Pitt troll…
Nicolas Cage, your turn.