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With: Josh Brolin (narrator), Dannie Tillman, Pat Tillman Sr., Marie Tillman, Rich Tillman, Stan Goff
Written by: Mark Monroe
Directed by: Amir Bar-Lev
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 94
Date: 01/23/2010

The Tillman Story (2010)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Rough and Fumble

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev (My Kid Could Paint That) puts together this brilliant, deceptively complex portrait of Pat Tillman, a football player on the verge of a multi-million dollar career, who set it aside to join the military and go to Afghanistan. He was killed in 2004, by friendly fire, but the government covered up this detail to make it look as if Tillman were an American hero, an inspiration for a war that had none.

Not even the Tillman family knew this at the time, and their efforts to uncover the truth are part of the subject of this documentary. But Bar-Lev also focuses on the mystery of Tillman himself. At a glance, he may have looked like a meathead, but he was actually highly intelligent and remarkably well-read. His reason for joining the military was always kept a secret, and it is not revealed here. He refused a military burial, for fear that he would be used as a martyr, which he was.

But in trying to un-martyr Tillman, but the family and this film manages to make him a symbol for something else: government and military corruption. In other words, once you have The Tillman Story pegged, it shifts again. It's a remarkable achievement. Josh Brolin narrates.

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