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  • Entertainment

MOVIE: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Wednesday, 15th February, 2017 7:00pm
MOVIE: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

WHAT do Vin Diesel, Steve Martin and Ang Lee have in common? The answer is they all compete to turn in career worst performances in ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’. Diesel and Martin fair enough, but Lee? What on earth has happened to Ang Lee?

The film is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn, who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, has been hailed a hero and brought home for a victory tour after a harrowing Iraq battle. Through flashbacks, culminating at the halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game, the film reveals what really happened to the squad, contrasting the realities of the Iraq conflict with America’s celebration back home.

So where did it all go wrong? And by “it” I’m not referring to the war. To begin with, one of the cardinal rules of screenwriting is broken, never preach to your audience. It feels like instead of delivering a compelling and original story, the filmmakers are simply trying to push their message about the futility of war. And that’s always a bad place to start as it never feels good being lectured to. 

As for the actors, the material is of such poor quality that they end up vainly attempting to rinse some quality performances out of the soggy storyline. 

You have to wonder why Lee agreed to get onboard such an unsteady contraption. Perhaps the project looked very different when he first did. But in the end, as with nearly all poor movies, the fault lies in the script. 

It’s hard to believe screenwriting responsibility was handed to a first-timer on a movie with a $40 million dollar budget, but it was. 

Recently we reviewed the excellent ‘T2 Trainspotting’ and made the point that while the central story was a standard run of the mill caper, the superb direction of Danny Boyle allowed the film come to life. If there is a sequel to Billy Lynn, the producers could always bring Boyle on board to direct, but there won’t be. We score it a messy 2 out of 5 stars.  

Paul O’Rourke

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