War Machine Review: Brad Pitt Is Disappointing In This Satire Gone Wrong
Wish the director tapped the genre of satirical comedy truly, the content was enough to get the film sail through.
Netflix got us all hooked when it released the trailer of satire comedy, War Machine. Brad Pitt was supposed to be the USP of the film and why not, A-list Hollywood actor playing the lead in an indie, digital film is in itself a big deal. However, as it appears, he is the weakest link in an otherwise fine film.
The movie opens in 2009 and follows Army General Glen McMahon, also known as 'the Glenimal.' McMahon is crass, hard, and shuffles along with a wide gait, a permanent scowl, and one hand forever curled into a claw, holding an imaginary cigar. This is the man who’s meant to bring the age-old war in Afghanistan to a triumphing close, but instead, his career is turned upside down by a media exposé. The film is loosely based on the late Michael Hastings’ book The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan — which was actually based on a Rolling Stone article by Hastings that led to the 2010 dismissal of Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
Just by the crux, one could make out the potential the film had. Alas! Animal Kingdom famed director David Michôd fails to execute it on screen. The film becomes a parody of itself, instead of a smart satire on every military strategy gone wrong in Afghanistan. The film becomes more about drunk-talking in front of a reporter, than a sly commentary on failed practices of American forces in the land and about a General who thinks he could make the cut through all the politics to win a 'never-ending' war.
War Machine appears as a miscalculated shot on an absurd satire about politics, PR machinery, media and an old-school General who wants things to end in a war which he desperately wants to win. The result is a confusing concoction of comedy, political drama and a man's mission. There comes a time in the film when you start wondering if Brad Pitt was even the right choice to play the character. The moment Pitt appears onscreen and opens his mouth in weird, made-up accent you know he will bring the film down. The cartoonish portrayal of a hard-wired General, never connects, neither in a satire nor in absurd comedy.
Other big names in the film are Ben Kingsley and Tilda Swinton and both play their small, but significant role brilliantly.
There are several loose ends in the film which never get tied up. The film never quite connects the dots between McMahon’s belief in counter-insurgency and his downfall after the 'unfortunate' magazine piece; the two narrations exist side-by-side without ever connecting, and the result is a lack of dramatic punch. The film doesn't even give viewers enough "I know what you did there" moments which is the basic essence of any political satire.
Overall, the film fails to make an impact and a major reason is its biggest star Pitt who failed to catch the essence of his character and brought an otherwise watchable film to a halt. Wish the director tapped the genre of satirical comedy truly, the content was enough to get the film sail through the deepest consciousness of the viewers. But then, how many times do we truly get what we want... McMahon would agree.
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