Starring Ryan Phillippe, Channing Tatum, Abbie Cornish
Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: July 8, 2008
Stop-Loss is a type of film that should cause waves. Produced under the MTV films banner, this movie has all the ingredients of a great film: A great cast, excellent acting, and a thought provoking script that mirrors the current events of the real world. It should have made a ton of money in the box office but because of some artistic license exhibited by the director Kimberly Price, the movie is an example of when a good idea goes bad.
Stop-Loss revolves around a Sergent Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe), who has just finished his tour of Iraq. Brandon, who experienced his fair share of horrors in Iraq, is happy to return to his home in Texas but is shocked to find out that the military has stopped him from leaving. He had been “stop-lossed,” and has to return back to Iraq. Feeling betrayed, he goes AWOL and decides to head out to Washington in an effort to overturn the stop-loss.
The story, written by the director Pierce and co-writer Mark Richard, focuses heavily on the war but at its core and King’s journey, but a great deal of the film also deals with the people closest to him, from his real family to the men he served his country with. It is through these characters, from King’s best friend Steve (Channing Tatum) to Steve’s girlfriend Michelle (Abby Cornish), that you get a better sense of both sides of the issue of stop lossing and the military. There definitely is an anti-military message in here but it is nice to see that the writers try to show how the other half lives.
One of the more surprising things about this movie is how great the actors are together. There acting is pretty good for an MTV film and the actors do have some nice chemistry together. I was never a huge fan of Phillippe but his portrayal of King is very sympathetic and his acting chops are not bad. He came off as a very likeable guy and I would like to see him in more military roles. He made me believe he was a soldier. The DVD provides a bland but sizable chunk of extra content. There is the making of featurette, commentary, and deleted scenes.
I think the main reason why this movie is only a good movie and not a potential great movie is that a huge mistake is made to propel a story forward. In the movie, King is told on the day he is supposed to leave the army that he must once again serve his country on yet another tour. Now this is all fine and certainly puts the viewers into King’s corner except for one problem: That is not how the stop loss clause is used. The Stop-Loss clause actually allows the military to prolong a group of soldier’s stay at a certain location. This glaring mistake is too big for people to overlook, even if the director chose to invoke the artistic license excuse. Moviegoers are too savvy to take things they see for face value and she really should have known that.
In the end, this mistake really does make or break this film. For people who are not too picky about what is real or not in the film, I think it is safe to say they will enjoy the movie. The acting is decent enough and the story is a good one. Those who want to watch this movie as a realistic portrayal of the life a solider might want to look elsewhere due to the liberties the movie takes with the Stop Loss clause.