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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk 2016 * * Stars

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime WalkDirector: Ang Lee
Year: 2016
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker

Ang Lee is a very pronounced director. He has made a handful of movies that are quite divergent from each other. All of Lee's work is unique and sumptuous. He can excel at sped up action sequences, visual artistry, effectively oppressed troupers, the whole shebang.

In Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (my latest review), he creates a film that is part present-day and part flashback. Working from a screenplay by rookie Jean-Christopher Castelli, Lee sans a consistent background score. He instead dons plenty of actor closeups, drifting camerawork, and a Robert Zemeckis brand of lush framing.

Despite a perfectly realized Joe Alwyn in the lead, Lee digging up the thespian bodies of Chris Tucker and Steve Martin, and casting director Salah Benchegra stealing Vin Diesel from the bowels of Fast and the Furious, "Halftime" is not that hard hitting in the emotions department. Heck, it's far from being the best thing Ang has ever done. I can say this though, it probably has one of the most intriguing promo posters I've viewed in many a moon.

Image result for Billy lynn's long halftime walk movie scenes
The story is as follows: Private Billy Lynn (Alwyn) and his brethren of U.S. Army soldiers, are being honored at a nationwide, NFL football game. Just recently, they were all in Iraq, fighting for their country and surviving a tense battle that eventually deemed them newsworthy. As said NFL game progresses, Lynn looks back on his time as an Army specialist. He has maimed, he has killed, and he may or may not have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lee centers the chief heroics on Lynn and re-enacts Iraqi engagement scenes with gusto. The dialogue is minimal yet sticks, the bullet piercings punctuate, and everything sends up to be at least, self-serious. Sadly, these moments are short lived and fail to fully let the viewer in. When the film cuts forward to 2004 (the year of the football halftime show), "Halftime" spends a majority of its time with the now at ease, Bravo Squad characters. With the exception of Billy Lynn and his Jack Handey-style deep thoughts, they come off as jokey, unlikable and to a point, prickly. They keep us the audience, at a distance. We are unable to freely root for them.

Image result for Billy lynn's long halftime walk movie scenesBottom line: Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk at times, feels almost satiric or like a takeoff of an anomalous war picture. Don't go in expecting a complex drama like Ang Lee's 1997 film, The Ice Storm. Don't go in expecting a harrowing, technical treat like his Life of Pi. Don't go in expecting Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and well, just don't go in expecting. "Halftime" is unintentionally hokey, a movie themed in Thanksgiving tradition that just happens to be released two weeks before Thanksgiving Day. In all honesty, it's merely a cinematic "walk" in the park. Rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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