War Machine Has Brad Pitt Hamming All The Way To Doomsday: Movie Review

Starring: Brad Pitt, Ben Kingsley, Meg Tilly

Directed by: David Michod

Last week THE Brad Pitt was in Mumbai to promote his  new film which was released on Netflix this week.

Now after seeing this dreadful war saga I realize Mr Pitt was wasting his time trying to generate interest in a film that is so outrageously mediocre and so self righteously ‘American’ in tone you wonder what Brad was promoting: the film or its heavily underlined message of American patriotism.

War Machine is one of those rare battle-scarred films that the actors try hard to prop up with  a blitzkrieg of  bravado. But the vacuousness and vapidity of the content is impossible to conceal. This is a film that wants to cry for  its beloved country and its brave soldiers who leave family and home to rough it out in the hostile impenetrable hinterland of Afghanistan.

Director David Michod (best known for the wickedly quirky Australian  crime drama Animal Kingdom)  hits the shrill notes soon enough as the narrative introduces  us to General Glen McMohan who is  so full of it—Trump-esque bravado, I mean—you want to flip him over and shake him until he stops behaving like  General Patton on a night when he just couldn’t get it up.

The troops, I mean,

It isn’t McMohan’s fault, really.It’s the way Brad Pitt plays him. The superstar, as American as ‘We Hate Osama’ teeshirts, grabs the character by his  jowls and goes right into its bowels in pursuit of the “real American patriot.” It is an over-stuffed,  grossly exaggerated performance, anointed by cheesy  ‘grey’ makeup, replete with theclichés of soldiering that we thought died with George C  Scott’s  General George Patton.

Brad has neither the booming baritone nor the bristling energy  to carry off the majestic shifts of wartime machismo that made Patton so imposing. Brad’s soldiering sensitivities make McMohan   more a brat than a hero.Ben Kingsley as the oblivious President  Of  Afghanistan  steals the show in one sequence where Pitt comes visiting in Kingsley’s bedroom.

Kingsley explains to Pitt what the makers of this film fail to understand: sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie.

There are some very interesting foot soldiers in this messed up mega-catastrophe , played by actors who seem to know  the purpose  of their  visit into this tortuously defensive tale of  the American will to poke its nose into foreign affairs.Some actors rise above the morass created by a director who thinks war is a zone that cinema cancrashland into without a map.

There are some moments that rise above the banality of  the bravado to claim some seriousness  of intent. The very talented Meg Tilly(still remembered  for her star turn in Agnes Of God decades ago) shows up as Brad’s wife trying hard to empathize with his obsession with battle-front heroism. She  vaguely reminded me on Anjali Tendulkar who incidentally doesn’t try to act in the  new Sachin Tendulkar bio-pic that came  out this week.

You wish some of the principal actors  in War Machine would also have desisted from ‘acting’ so extravagantly. With a sledgehammer’s subtlety this utterly misguided film reminds us that Uncle Sam needs to be in difficult places because, well, he knows best.

Brad Pitt won’t argue with that.He just visited India.

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