film reel image

film reel image

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Tigerland 2000 * * * 1/2 Stars


2000's Tigerland is a pseudo, ersatz war film set in 1971 but it doesn't bleed early, 70s nostalgia. It doesn't have time for that noise. It's rather gritty and dark and grainy, like abundant mud on your shoes. Tigerland is a character study and not some Call of Duty extract. It's mean-spirited, twinging, and prison-like. War is hell even before it's time to um, go to war. 

Clocking in at 101 minutes and feeling like an extended version of the first half via Full Metal Jacket, Tigerland is a tour de force for its late director, Joel Schumacher. Schumacher lets his camera freefall as he strips away the stench from his previous, nutrition-free blockbusters (those bad Batman flicks). He unwillingly cultivates a compact, boot camp indie filled with sterling touches and brute irony. "It ain't your army". Yeah but it's my movie to review. Natch.

So is Tigerland a behind the scenes blueprint for soldiers getting ready to travel 14 or so hours to get their heads blown off? In a way yes. But like I said in the first paragraph, it's still a character study, with star Colin Farrell acting his tail off as the crusader slash antihero bent on virtual pacifism. And does Tigerland feel like a stage play with heightened acting and bullets aplenty? Yeah but so what. The film takes Schumacher out of his cinematic comfort zone like a vegetarian living off of meat. Joel reinvented his shtick here in the new millennium, with his efforts being more mature and well, more gangly. 

As a flick about a bunch of recruits training in Louisiana to get ready to fight in The Vietnam War, Tigerland takes every authoritative persona and splices them into Sergeant Hartman types. It also reaches for themes of passive resistance. The results are stirring, numbing, and upsetting, like a battle that could never be won.  

Written by Jesse Burleson

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