The producers of Lions for Lambs are missing a tremendous marketing opportunity here. They should spell each L word with a Z instead of an L, and use the number 4 in between them. Lionz4lambz would be gangsta to the youth market.
Movie Review: Lions for Lambs
Lions for Lambs tells three parallel stories occurring over the course of a single hour. A Washington D.C. politician (Tom Cruise) shares his new war strategy with a journalist (Meryl Streep). The troops in Afghanistan embark on said mission while a California professor (Robert Redford) tries to talk a student into applying himself to political science.
The academic thread is by far the most interesting to me. From the unorthodox bargain the teacher proposes to the debate over ways to make a difference, these are provocative philosophical concepts. The political one is more of the common war debates though executed very well and articulately. The military plot is a harrowing adventure in atypical terrain.
It's a tight 88 minute exercise that keeps moving. Two of the threads are connected by characters while the third only shares a single line with the others. That's fine. This doesn't need to be Crash. It actually might have been more provocative if the two characters did not overlap and the film simply asked us to apply our sympathies for one to every anonymous person, but it doesn't.
There are some flashbacks within the academic story that break the film's real time pattern, but that too is fine. Those classroom debates are the most interesting topics of the film and the real time was never a dramatic gimmick. It's just a timeline.
The film does answer all of its questions by the end. One might have hoped for some open ends letting us decide who did what. At least it's handled subtly when the film says, "Oh yeah, here's what they ended up doing after all that thought."
Any film that centers around debate is by default considered an Oscar contender. It obviously won't rake in blockbuster dollars for talking, so that's its only shot. I don't think it's THAT good but I certainly enjoyed the theories presented in some of the storylines. That should count for something itself.