Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


In years to come there will probably be a better movie about soldiers returning home after the war in Afghanistan.  Until then there's "Brothers" a melodramatic look at what happens when a soldier returns from the dead.

That soldier is Captain Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire).  He has a wife Grace (Natalie Portman) and two young daughters.  He also as the title suggests has a brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) who was just released from prison for holding up a bank or something.  While Tommy is trying to get back on his feet, Sam is sent for another tour in Afghanistan.

Not long after getting there, his helicopter is shot down.  He's presumed dead.  It's not giving away anything to say that he doesn't die.  Instead, he's captured by the Taliban or some facsimile thereof.  Meanwhile, Tommy gets a job as a contractor and decides to help Grace by remodeling her kitchen.  He becomes closer to Grace and her children in the process though they don't go so far as sleeping with each other.

Meanwhile, Sam and a fellow soldier Joe Willis are being tortured.  Willis cracks first, making one of those silly videos where he condemns America.  When Sam breaks he does something far more horrific.

Again, probably not spoiling anything to say Sam is rescued and returned to America.  I mean, that was the whole point of the movie.  The problem then is Sam has trouble fitting back into normal life with his family and society in general.  He also has to reconcile the things that he did in Afghanistan.  Making it more awkward is that Grace and especially her kids have come to rely on Tommy.

Eventually it all boils down to an All-Star freak out by Sam that you could see coming from two miles away.  Again, this isn't a great movie.  It spends too long getting the pieces into place and not enough with them afterward.  The whole thing is a little predictable and melodramatic.  As I said at the beginning, someone will probably make a better movie on this subject in years to come.

Though it might be unintentional, the movie does highlight an important issue, which is that we in this country do a lousy job with our returning soldiers.  We bring them home and just throw them to the wolves without much in the way of psychological care.  This leads to problems down the road in the way of suicides and murders.  You'd think after Vietnam we would have learned a lesson, but this isn't really the case.  Soldiers, especially those who have done and seen terrible things like Sam in the movie, should be given help to readjust to normal life.

That is all.

(BTW, this movie is based on a Danish movie from 2004, which I'm willing to bet is better in terms of less melodrama.)

My score:  62/100 (2.5 stars)

Metacritic score:  58/100 (2 stars)

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