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Running Time:
1 hr. 50 min

Rating: R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.

Rating Explanation:
for language throughout, some war violence, sexual content, and brief drug use

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
Despite its noble goals, it lacks a strong enough screenplay to achieve them; and its visual innovations are often merely distracting.

Additional Info:
Joe Alwyn ... Billy
Garrett Hedlund ... Dime
Arturo Castro ... Mango
Mason Lee ... Foo
Brian 'Astro' Bradley ... Lodis
Beau Knapp ... Crack
Ismael Cruz Cordova ... Holliday
Barney Harris ... Sykes
Vin Diesel ... Shroom
Steve Martin ... Norm
Chris Tucker ... Albert
Kristen Stewart ... Kathryn
Makenzie Leigh ... Faison
Ben Platt ... Josh
Bruce McKinnon ... Billy's Father

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

This film by Oscar-winning director Ang Lee ("Brokeback Mountain") marries high-def film with a low-cal story centering on a bunch of soldiers hanging around at a football game while we await a big revelation that never arrives.

Billy Lynn (played with considerable heart by newcomer Joe Alwyn) is a soldier on leave back home in Texas, where he and his squadmates are to be fêted at the halftime show held during a fictional Dallas football team’s Thanksgiving Day game. Bily Lynn is the star of what became an indelible photo of the Iraq War: After his sergeant (Vin Diesel) came under fire, Billy dashed out into the open to save him. The sergeant died in the fighting anyway, and now Billy is stricken with survivor’s guilt, PTSD and political disillusionment.

He and his comrades in arms intend to make the most of their stateside jaunt, partying with cheerleaders and accepting applause. Instead, they are cheated by the football team’s ruthless owner (Steve Martin), disappointed by their agent (Chris Tucker) who's trying to sell their story to Hollywood, and generally disgusted by the capitalist depravity around them.

The problem with the film is that it's  lazy and shallow, like that college freshman who’s home for the holidays and eager to tell you all about what he learned from “The Marx-Engels Reader.” Based on a novel by Ben Fountain, The film goes to silly extremes to make the point that our soldiers are hapless victims of crass exploitation by a gluttonous, imperialist and vapid American culture: Twice within a matter of hours, Texas rednecks — not generally noted for being anti-military or unpatriotic — start fights with the soldiers, underlining Fountain’s dreary term-paper point that the Iraq War was the logical outcome of America’s vices.

Mistaking condescension for sympathy, the film may please the militant pacifists but few others will be fooled: File this one among the previous spate of strident anti-Iraq War movies, all of which flopped. Like those dreadful earlier films, this one shoehorns in stale Huffington Post talking points, this time rattled off by Kristen Stewart as Billy’s sister, who tries to steer him into getting himself declared unfit for service by a shrink. Billy sees this as dishonorable (I guess), but director Ang Lee doesn’t explore the point: Lots of close-ups of Billy looking sad are as far as they go into psychology.

Apart from a few minutes of flashback battle footage, which builds to a climax that doesn’t change anything, the movie mostly consists of tiresome nudge-nudging (message: “Can’t you idiots see the Iraq War was bad?”). Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk wishes it were something like “The Hurt Locker.” Instead, it’s more like “The Snark Locker.”

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