Title – War Machine (2017)
Director – David Michôd (The Rover)
Cast – Brad Pitt, Anthony Michael Hall, Anthony Hayes, John Magaro, Emory Cohen, Will Poulter, Topher Grace, Sir Ben Kingsley, Meg Tilly, Scott McNairy
Plot – Sent to the Middle East to win the hearts and minds of the locals and get them to support the foreign troops they’re harbouring in their lands, US Army Gen. Glen McMahon (Pitt) and his entourage quickly realise that they are facing an uphill battle to win the war on terror when away from the battlefield.
“What do you do when the war you’re fighting just can’t possibly be won in any meaningful sense?”
Review by Eddie on 02/06/2017
A world conquering streaming provider putting up $60 million dollars of hard earned cash. A beloved A-lister headlining the film and promotion of it and an Australian director who delivered one of the countries all-time great films in the form of Animal Kingdom.
On paper Netflix’s War Machine seems like a sure-fire winner.
That it’s not is a mighty shame, as this based around truth satirical war dramedy felt like one of Netflix’s biggest wins since it received the rights to distribute the stunning African child soldier drama Beasts of No Nation back in 2015 but David Michod’s largely unengaging affair is neither funny enough or dramatic enough to recommend anyone spending their valuable streaming time on.
I for one, find it bitterly disappointing that Michod has followed up his other disappointing Animal Kingdom follow-up The Rover with this effort, as it’s now starting to feel like the promising director could become one of those unfortunate feature film makers that peaked with their first effort.
A stunning example of storytelling, acting and execution, Animal Kingdom suggested Michod could well be one of the countries brightest industry talents.
War Machine has none of these traits, while it at times showcases a film that might’ve been (rare moments of witty political commentary, scenes of Brad Pitt’s stoic Army General Glen McMahon running around the streets of Europe or going for an awkward jog), the bland overall storytelling, uninteresting scene’s and underuse of an experienced and well-regarded cast all point to Michod failing to grasp what War Machine wanted to be or what it is even about.
Confusing in what it’s wanting to tell us, War Machine’s cloudy message clearly played with its casts ability to do their magic with the material at hand and while usually Pitt playing it up in a comedy is a thing to be excited about, even the at present struggling Hollywood heavy hitter can’t do much to save War Machine from its inherent blandness.
Getting to pull many a facial expression and allowed to wave his hands around a lot (like almost every scene), Pitt’s grizzled yet proud American servant McMahon flays around the place trying to win the war in the Middle East with a bunch of lackeys in tow but General McMahon’s mission and the story’s end goal never come close to meeting at an exciting point and McMahon as a character doesn’t ever click with Pitt in a way in which his similar characters in films like Burn After Reading or Snatch did.
It’s therefore a continuation of a recent string of disappointments from an actor that in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s was on some sort of roll.
It’s even more unfortunate for Pitt and the film at large in the fact that this real life character of General McMahon is such an interesting one.
Filled with unique ideas and characters traits, War Machine does a disservice to what could’ve been one of the year’s most intriguing feature film figures.
Final Say –
If I was involved in the financials of Netflix I would be wondering deeply about why this $60 million dollar film cost what it did.
A mostly bland and lifeless experience (that’s best scene is arguably its final one featuring a cameoing A-lister), War Machine squanders its ample potential on something bordering on the wrong side of the mediocre and this high profile streaming event ends up being one of the year’s biggest disappointments, especially when we all know that the talent involved is capable of so much more.
2 early morning jogs out of 5