Wednesday, 24 October 2007
LFF: Lions For Lambs
Directed by and co-starring Robert Redford, the preachy and wordy Lions For Lambs marked its world premiere in London on Monday with an appearance from both the Sundance Kid and Tom Cruise who spent much less time working the crowds outside the cinema than normal. As for the film itself, it’s a dull, talky piece of political grandstanding that, while intended to bash Bush — and clearly ascribing to Redford’s liberal tendencies — also tries to appease the other side too, having its “characters” represent the differing sections of the “war on terror” debate and allowing them time to espouse their varying viewpoints. Some might call it balanced, others a case of the film trying to have its cake and eating it too. (Time Out suggested it should be retitled Politics For Dummies which made me laugh.) And so we have Cruise turning on the charm as the hot shot young Republican Senator giving some one-on-one interview time to Meryl Streep’s unconvincing TV reporter to talk up a new, more aggressive military policy in Afghanistan. A policy that’s playing out as they speak with US soldiers Michael Pena and Derek Luke trapped on a snow-capped Afghan ridge with enemy troops closing in. Meanwhile, Redford’s laidback Californian university professor — who, we discover, once taught Pena and Luke — has called in one of his current (and most promising) students Todd (Andrew Garfield) for an early morning chat in an effort to rouse him from his world of privileged (political) apathy. Written by Matthew Michael Carnahan, scripter of The Kingdom, Lions For Lambs is far too self-important and muddled to really convince, and apart from the odd moment in the Cruise/Streep tete-a-tete, none of the intended verbal sparring truly sparks, the film coming across as a heavy-handed lecture that will, most likely, send audiences to sleep rather than stimulate debate.