I really enjoyed Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, which I did not expect. It was one of the best movies of that year. Unfortunately, Lee’s new film, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is closer to Ang Lee’s Hulk instead of Life of Pi.
I really disliked this movie.
Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) was a member of the military group known as Bravo Squad who was involved in a video of a heroic action during the Iraqi War and suddenly became American heroes. Billy Lynn was the face of the story.
So the squad was brought to Texas to a football game, to make an appearance at the halftime show, by team owner and billionaire Norm Oglesby (Steve Martin). Along the way, we see the troubles and tribulations of the group of soldiers adapting to the normal world again.
There were so many stupid things throughout this film. From Billy Lynn enlisting because his sister Katherine (Kristen Stewart) was in a terrible accident to a group of roadies attacking the squad during the football game, I found so much just ridiculous in the story. Billy Lynn meets and falls for a cheerleader (Makenzie Leigh) and is ready to run away with her after ten minutes.
Flashbacks to the Iraq War involving Vin Diesel as the person who Billy Lynn “saves” does not help the movie. Steve Martin, who was basically playing Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones, was wasted as the Texas money man. I did not understand why Kristen Stewart had such a desire to get Billy Lynn out of the military either. She went as far as to say that if anything would happen to him, she would kill herself. Geez, thanks sis for putting on the pressure.
The remaining members of the Bravo Squad were underdeveloped and were basic stereotypes. They were not portrayed in a very positive light. They were shown more as assholes and delinquents than soldiers.
Ang Lee’s message was all over the place as well. At times, it felt like I was getting preached at about the horribleness of the Iraqi War and other times it made me think that the soldiers were being set up as being better than all of us and other times made me think that this was intended as a comedic satire. I’m not sure if this was a political statement or a love letter to the military or a satirical plot. It felt like all of these at many different times of the film, and that inconsistency makes this tough to watch.
The funniest part of this whole thing is Chris Tucker plying an agent who is trying to sell the story of the Bravo Squad to Hollywood, but not getting any takers. Ironically, in the movie apparently, they understand that this would not make a good movie. Too bad real life did not echo fiction in this case.