Less a war drama than a set of dueling position papers, Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs may be the gabbiest movie ever made about American foreign policy — and it wasn't even written by Aaron Sorkin. A few listless battle scenes in Afghanistan measure the cost of war inflicted by the real meanies back home in Washington, represented here by a Republican hardbody (Tom Cruise) in crisp shirt, sparkly molars and oodles of blind ambition. Cruise's senator endlessly hectors a tough old broad of a journalist in '60s-liberal tweeds (Meryl Streep) about the need for an ultimate surge. She lectures him right back on the folly of U.S. warmongering. To drive the point home, we head to California, where a world-weary professor and Vietnam vet (Redford) promises straight B's to a disaffected failing student (Andrew Garfield), on the condition that he cast aside sloth to become all that he can be against the war. Obstinately artless and riddled with implausibilties, Lions for Lambs feels twice as long as its trim 88 minutes. Yet I found myself unaccountably charmed by Redford's old-fangled desire to plead the case of ordinary people caught up in the reckless aggression of the powerful. Lions for Lambs may not be much of a movie, but in the face of such sweet sincerity, what's a critic to do but roll over and offer her tummy for tickling?
Robert RedfordRobert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Michael Pena, Derek LukeMatthew Michael CarnahanDaniel LupiMGM