When Kimberly Peirce gave us Boys Don't Cry, it was a critical explosion. She came, she moved us, and Hilary Swank came out of it with an Oscar. The film raised our expectations, and they rested there as Peirce moved out of the spotlight and worked behind the camera. The wait lasted almost a decade, but after nine years, she was finally back with Stop Loss -- another film in the cinematic, Iraq War whirlwind. While it was destined to fall under the weight of Iraq apathy, it was another example of Peirce's commitment to personal stories.
Stop Loss is the fictional account of a real problem: over a hundred thousand soldiers have been denied release when their time in Iraq is up. Instead of best wishes, they're sent back to Iraq, and life beyond the war's struggles becomes a distant, vague hope, rather than a present reality. Ryan Phillipe stars as Sgt. Brandon King, a man who is headed towards the end of his time in Iraq, or so he thinks. First, his unit is tricked and attacked. He loses some of his men, and struggles with the realities of warfare -- dead friends, and the fact that no matter how hard you try, innocent people will fall in the fight.