Combustible Celluloid
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With: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hayes, John Magaro, Anthony Michael Hall, Emory Cohen, Topher Grace, Daniel Betts, Aymen Hamdouchi, RJ Cyler, Alan Ruck, Nicholas Jones, Will Poulter, Lakeith Stanfield, Ben Kingsley, Meg Tilly, Griffin Dunne, Josh Stewart, Kola Bokinni, Derek Siow, Hopper Penn, Pico Alexander, Scoot McNairy, Tilda Swinton
Written by: David Michôd, based on a book by Michael Hastings
Directed by: David Michôd
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 122
Date: 05/26/2017

War Machine (2017)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

General Chaos

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Perhaps Netflix's biggest original film thus far, with no less than Brad Pitt in the lead role, David Michod's War Machine (2017) could have been a game changer. But rather than a major "must-see," it's more minor, perhaps "worth seeing." It's a fairly complex comedy-drama, based loosely on Michael Hastings's non-fiction book The Operators, about a super, badass general Glen McMahon (Pitt), who is sent into Afghanistan to take charge of the war and hopefully clean things up; the general, for his part, hopes simply to "win" the war. Instead, he finds himself shuffling through various meetings, submitting reports, and waiting for local elections.

Scoot McNairy narrates, helping to explain why the entire war is a maze that keeps turning back upon itself, a grim realization that seems more wasteful and tragic than it is funny. Then, McNairy turns up about 2/3 of the way through the film as Rolling Stone journalist Sean Cullen, who changes McMahon's fate. The Australian writer/director Michod made the terrific Animal Kingdom (2010), a serious crime drama, and his talents don't appear entirely suited to balancing this films' many balls in the air. But Pitt is excellent, and there are a few laughs, as well as some harsh, crucial lessons. Anthony Michael Hall plays one of the general's men, Meg Tilly is his wife, and Tilda Swinton, Ben Kingsley, Topher Grace, Alan Ruck, Griffin Dunne, Lakeith Stanfield, Will Poulter, and others appear in (very) small roles.

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