"Will, what happened over there?"
This was the last film directed by Academy Award winning producer Irwin Winkler who recently has gone back to doing what he does best: producing movies. Home of the Brave is an overly melodramatic war film that fails to connect with the audience despite its good intentions. The acting in this film is pretty bad, the script is absolutely terrible, and the direction felt too generic. The script, written by Mark Friedman, was very unsubtle, hammering us over the head with the PTSD suffered by the soldiers who returned home from Iraq. Several war films have dealt with these issues far better and in a more subtle manner than Home of the Brave does. Winkler has good intentions with this film, he doesn't try to send a political anti-war message or anything like that but rather focuses on the pain the soldiers have to face when they return home and how difficult adapting can become for them. Those noble intentions, didn't translate well into a film that was full of war cliches and terrible dialogues. It became too melodramatic and the characters were never developed realistically. It just rang false and it should've dealt with such a serious issue in a more complex manner. I couldn't connect with any of the characters in this film and was disappointed with Winkler's direction.
The story follows a group of soldiers in the Iraq War who are pleased to receive the news that their tour of duty is coming to an end in two weeks. As they make plans of what they will do when they return home, they are sent on a humanitarian mission to deliver some medical supplies at a nearby village. One of the convoys is driven by Vanessa Price (Jessica Biel), while another one is guarded by Tommy Yates (Brian Presley), his hometown best friend Jordan (Chad Michael Murray), and Jamal (50 Cent). A surgeon named Will Marsh (Samuel Jackson) also accompanies them on the mission. Upon arriving at the village the unit is ambushed and several lives are lost, while others suffer psychological traumas and physical injuries. The lives of these soldiers are changed forever and once they arrive home to their families they must learn how to adjust to their "normal" lives. We see how each one of these characters have difficulty doing so as they continue to be emotionally torn by the war, while some of them continue to cross each other's path back home in Washington.
Home of the Brave felt tremendously out dated despite it only being made 7 years ago. It probably has to do with the fact that this film was a bit lazy in the way they tried to tackle the subject matter. It is something we've seen in many other war movies recently that have had a much more subtle approach. This film just felt too repetitive and predictable. The performance from the cast also hurt this film tremendously and not even Samuel L Jackson could do enough to save this. There is a short cameo by Christina Ricci that really felt out of place, like many other moments in this film. The different stories didn't connect very well either and the characters were just presented in a very lazy manner. Home of the Brave has all the war cliches you can think of and doesn't present anything groundbreaking or original.