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Latest Iraq Installment: The Lucky Ones

Published September 26, 2008 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Roadside Attractions
I don't get tired of these Iraq War movies. To me it is a valid and important ground for drama. I'm starting to suspect that their value is more for Hollywood karma than any actual message, since nobody seems to go see them, but I will continue to support them.

Review: The Lucky Ones


The Lucky Ones are three Iraq War veterans on leave or at the end of their tour, with injuries major enough to keep them from deadly war zones but minor enough that they can still function. They end up on a road trip together when an airport power outage makes a car the only means of transportation.

I usually don't talk about acting because I'm a story guy. Either I believe the story and just accept the character, or I blame the story if somebody doesn't have the material to work with. This was one case where one performance totally captivated me.

Rachel McAdams keeps reminding me how good she is in every role she takes. In this movie, she just glows energy. Acting is one thing. How do you project energy? Through joy, anger and curiosity, she projects this vibe and she is the backbone of the film. Tim Robbins and Michael Pena do fine jobs, and I hope they forgive me for singling out their costar.


The Lucky OnesThe Lucky Ones


There is a light touch to the issues in this film. It is a bouncy journey through the country and these characters' lives. There are a few obstacles and misadventures that hold them up. It's a dramatic Plains, Trains and Automobiles.

Some familiar plot developments are played sincerely, with the human touch of funny friends observing from the outside. Besides, you can't very much blame a movie for clichés when real life has military couples facing the same crises.

When the truth of certain characters' pasts comes out, it's no big surprise. The plot isn't really central here and I don't think they're counting on The Lucky Ones to be this year's M. Night Shyamalan twist ending. There are some coincidences and easy solutions to propel the story, but the big issues are called out and tweaked.

It's really nice to see warmth and compassion in this film. People they meet on the road treat them kindly, and they develop affection amongst each other. I loved the "No, thank YOU" motif. It's nice to see gratitude coming back.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Roadside Attractions
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