By: Movie Snurb (Four Beers) –
Billy Lynn is 19 years old and is brought home with his Bravo squad for a victory tour, including an NFL halftime show, after Billy’s heroic act is caught on a journalist’s stationary camera. The film goes back and forth between the halftime show in Dallas on Thanksgiving and the day in battle. The films shows the contrast between the true horrors of war and America’s perception of war through the eyes of the media back home. The film also shows the horrors of PTSD and what some veterans go through during normal everyday occurrences at home.
The film shows the different perceptions of war very well. At home we see the war as heroes going off to do heroic things and we forget that these are people, just like you or your annoying neighbor. Most of these people are 18 and 19 years old like poor Billy Lynn and they’re frightened. The film shows how these soldiers aren’t pumped or happy with what they’ve done; some aren’t proud. We forget this at home; we’re told to support our troops, which we should. Then we really just forget about them once they’re out of the spotlight; we really forget what they sacrifice for us besides Memorial and Veteran’s Day.
The visuals were quiet striking. I didn’t get to watch the film in 120 fps (frames per second), but it was in 70 and at times the film didn’t look real. The film was so clear and bright it was nearly distracting. I think there is definitely an argument for 120 fps and 4K as the future of filmmaking. I don’t think it needs to be in every film, but for visual directors like Ang Lee, it could be used for something special.
Some of the acting in this film is rather good. Newcomer Joe Alwyn could be a rather nice young talent. Kristen Stewart is surprising good and subdued as Billy’s sister. Garrett Hedlund has some funny dark comedic lines that he delivers nicely and Steve Martin does very well as the football team’s owner.
Having said that, some of the acting was not good, not even close. Some of it was the writing because some of the lines were cheesy. However, some scenes the lines were delivered with such stiffness it was like the lines were being forced from the actor’s face. Sometimes it sounded like they were reading the lines off their arm because they couldn’t remember them.
A couple of things took me out of the film. One was the football team was obviously supposed to be the Dallas Cowboys, but the jerseys and the logos looked fake. It’s as if they didn’t have the budget to use the real Cowboys’ logos, which is fine, but if you do that, use actors. They had Richard Sherman and J.J. Watt playing two football players on the team. They couldn’t act, and knowing neither of them play for Dallas just took me right out of that bit. I would’ve preferred to have actors used for the players. How long are we going to have J.J. Watt shoved down our throat?
Please go away
Lastly I was just bored. The story wasn’t anything unusual, the only new thing was the 120 fps and 4K which was interesting at best. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk wasn’t bad enough to be entertaining, and it wasn’t good enough to hold my interest, I was just bored by the film. I found myself many times thinking of what I’d like to eat when I got out of the movie. I went with Taco Bell.
What I probably looked like throughout most of the film.
Ang Lee is still a magnificent director and I can’t wait for his next vision. Unfortunately, this was more of a miss than a hit for Lee. You could pass on this film.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time we see a soldier experience his PTSD.
Do a Shot: every time we see Billy’s thoughts instead of his reality.
Do a Shot: every time you look at your watch or your mind wanders.
Shotgun a Beer: before you start the movie to counteract your probable boredom.