Home of the BraveMarch 1, 2007
Three soldiers struggle to readjust to life at home after returning home from a lengthy tour in Iraq.
Release Year: 2006
Rating: 5.6/10 (6,453 voted)
Critic's Score: 42/100
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, 50 Cent, Jessica Biel
The day after they get the word they'll go home in two weeks, a group of soldiers from Spokane are ambushed in an Iraqi city. Back stateside we follow four of them – a surgeon who saw too much, a teacher who's a single mom and who lost a hand in the ambush, an infantry man whose best friend died that day, and a soldier who keeps reliving the moment he killed a civilian woman. Each of the four has come home changed, each feels dislocation. Group therapy, V.A. services, halting gestures from family and colleagues, and regular flashbacks keep the war front and center in their minds. They're angry, touchy, and explosive: can a warrior find peace back home?
Writers: Mark Friedman, Mark Friedman
Samuel L. Jackson
(as Curtis Jackson)
Chad Michael Murray
(as Jeff Nordling)
Sam Jones III
V.A. Hospital Doctor
Coming home is the real battle.
Release Date: 1 March 2007
Filming Locations: Morocco
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: €89,779
(1 April 2007)
When one soldier is told to fire the AT-4 at a gunman on the roof, he is holding it backwards when he is firing it. The rocket comes out of the smaller end of the tube, not the larger.
Will, what happened over there?
I don't really remember. You know. It's like a dream. Hazy dream.
Then tell me. I wanna know.
Do you? Wanna know what a blast wound looks like? What an OR in the desert smells like? What really happens to them? How they die? You really wanna know? You want us to come back like nothing ever happened. You don't want to get your hands dirty with the details.
Horrifyingly incompetent butchering of an important topic
Poor Tommy Yates (Brian Presley), one of the heroes of the Iraq war
drama Home of the Brave, has fallen so far after his return home that
the best job he can get is (shudder) working the box office at a movie
theatre. He runs into Vanessa (Jessica Biel), who was hurt in the
attack that killed his best friend, at the movie theatre; they chat
about how hard it has been to adjust. Tommy notes that he sells "stupid
tickets to these stupid movies," but he never goes to see them, because
they "seem so unimportant."
There are no other scenes at Tommy's place of employmenthe could work
at any number of low-paying menial jobs. But screenwriter Mark Friedman
works in that little piece of commentary to congratulate both himself
and the viewer; the film you're watching is not like all those other
"stupid movies," you see. It's important. The problem is that Home of
the Brave is an execrable film, so poorly made and obvious that it is
impossible to take seriously, no matter how earnest and noble the
intentions. A bad film is a bad film, whether it concerns serious
topics or not.
Most bad films can be blamed squarely on the scriptand this one's a
doozybut Home of the Brave is incompetent on every level: bad writing,
bad directing, bad music, bad editing, and mostly bad performances.
Director Irwin Winkler started out as an accomplished producer, and
bore that credit on many good films (Raging Bull and Rocky among them),
but he has yet to direct a good film, after many tries (The Net, At
First Sight, De-Lovely, Life as a House). There's no focus to this
effort; the pacing plods, the performances are all over the place, and
there's not a cliché in the war movie book that Winkler doesn't embrace
(when Chad Michael Murray buys the farm early in the pictureto my
immense reliefWinkler actually has his best buddy Presley run to him
in slow motion, screaming "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!").
The screenplay, by first-time screenwriter (and former Harvey Weinstein
assistant) Mark Friedman, is astonishingly bad. Its poor quality sneaks
up on you, since there's minimal dialogue before the first extended
action sequence (though said dialogue does include the news that this
Iraq company will be heading home inside of a week, which anyone who
has ever seen a cop movie knows is a sure sign of impending death and
destruction). But the dialogue is atrocious, the kind of corny,
cliché-ridden platitudes that would get a quick rewrite on your average
made-for-TV movie (which Home of the Brave, with its plinky piano music
and slo-mo flashbacks, often recalls). For example, when he visits his
buddy's widow (Christina Ricci, whose tiny role in a film this bad is
entirely inexplicable), she asks, "Was he a hero, Tommy?" He replies,
"He died defending his country." The whole script is like that.
And everyone gets a big monologue. Poor Jessica Biel actually has one
where she tells the story of how she was injuredwhich we saw, in its
entirety, in the opening sequence. Her telling adds no insight or
additional perspective to the earlier scene; I guess it's there for
people who showed up late (helpfully, footage from the scene is shown
over her shoulder, as if she's Katie Couric or something). Victoria
Rowell, as Samuel L. Jackson's wife, has a long monologue where she
lists all of the things she did for their family while he was gone;
he's aware of all of them ("I supported you when you enlisted!"), so
this entire speech exists purely for our benefit. And so on. Even
Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson gets a monologue, and whoa boy was that a bad
idea. I know he's a tough guy (since he'll never shut up about how many
times he's been shot), so I'm sure he can take the criticism he'll
receive for his performance in this film. He's awful, all dead eyes and
mumbled dialogue; given moments that require a real actor (like when he
accidentally takes out an Iraqi civilian), Jackson's face registers
nothing. Whatever you call him, Jackson or Fiddy, he stinks.
Brian Presley, who probably has more screen time than anyone, doesn't
fare much better. The bulk of Presley's resume, according to IMDb, is
on soap operas; this is his first major film, and with any luck, it
will be his last. His line readings are stilted and unconvincing, his
attempts at genuine emotion are laughable, and even a good actor would
have trouble delivering his final "Dear Mom and Dad" voice-over well.
Samuel L. Jackson is good enough, I guess, but when is he going to get
back to making good films? We've given him like ten years of paycheck
roles now; it's time for him to stop phoning it in. He basically has to
play the same notes that his contemporary Denzel Washington did in
Courage Under Fire ten years ago; that was a brilliant, subtle
performance, but even more so compared with Jackson's work here (his
drunk act is about as nuanced as Foster Brooks'). The surprise of the
film is Jessica Biel, who is actually the best thing in it, proving
that her solid (but brief) turn in The Illusionist was no fluke. She
has a couple of moments so honest, in fact, that they deserve to have
been airlifted into a better film.
Believe it or not, I feel like I'm low-balling the sheer ineptitude of
Home of the Brave; it really is inexcusably stupid, a mixture of every
bad Lifetime drama, filtered through a hot topic to make it seem
timely. And that's perhaps what is most reprehensible about the film:
it is a ham-fisted, simple-minded, schlocky examination of an important
subject. And for that, the people who made it should be ashamed of