Film Hick: Stop Loss (2008)
Directed by: Kimberly Peirce. Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rob Brown, Channing Tatum, Victor Rasuk. Rated: R. Running Time: 112 Mins.
I have to admit that before this film I was totally unaware of the whole idea of Stop-Loss, where the US Army can extend a soldier’s time in the war thanks to a little loophole that hardly anyone seems aware of, forcing them back into the conflict often against their will. 180,000 troops have had this used on them since it came into effect.
The film works because this whole idea is not constantly referred to as some film-makers may have been tempted to do, and all of the exploration of the political issues around the war are firmly embedded within a human story and a good dose of drama that draws you in and pulls you along.
The best political films are the ones that don’t forget that they are also supposed to be entertaining – they can slip the education and the political element under the door in a painless process that has you coming away from the viewing process thinking. This had a knock-on effect for me in that it made me hunt out some documentaries on the conflict and made me read up on the subject.
Phillipe turns in a strong performance, as do the rest of the cast. Is it slightly skewed? Well, of course it has leftist leanings and it is trying to make a point, but I don’t think the army comes off too badly in this, only the stop-loss policy. But I don’t think it’s as heavy-handed as I have seen it being accused of. You have to salute that it came from MTV of all places and some of that heavy handedness is purely down to the dramatic necessities involved in telling a story not any inaccuracies. Even if it is not a perfect film it’s a commendable effort – one that I found very enjoyable to watch.