You know how it felt when you were in college and your dad would take you aside for a, "Let's have a serious chat about your future/what a slacker you are/why you need to start growing up and getting your life together" talk? Wasn't that fun? Or not. That's pretty much how it feels watching the lastest Iraq war flick, Robert Redford-helmed Lions for Lambs, written by Matthew Michael Carnahan, who also penned The Kingdom, which came out in September (and barely made back its $70 million budget).
Lions for Lambs gets its title from a story related by Redford's character, college professor Stephen Malley, about a German general in WW2 who had a lot of respect for the British footsoldiers on the front lines, even though he thought those brave men were being led by a pack of idiots. The general, Malley tells us, said of the soldiers "Never have I seen such lions led by such lambs." The film plays on that idea with our current (seemingly endless) war and the soldiers putting their lives on the line for decisions being made by people who don't seem to know what the hell they're doing. The anecdote could also apply to the film itself, which has heaps of earnest, heartfelt performances and a relevant message unfortunately wrapped up in an oddly discordant, moderately self-righteous package which is probably going to go right over the heads of most of the people at whom it's targeted.