Stop-Loss’ hammers it home

By By Rachel Adams and By Rachel Adams

By Rachel Adams

There are times when every moviegoer has to admit that he or she isn’t completely objective in his or her judgments. I’ll admit that there are less-than-objective reasons I gave this movie such a low score. One, I hate war movies. Two, I’m tired of all the war movies. Three, see one and two.

But really, I’m just trying to protect you. Seen “In the Valley of Elah”? You don’t need to see this. Seen “No End in Sight”? Don’t need to see “Stop-Loss”. War messes people up — we get it. We get it. Even those who opposed the war from day one are tired of being affirmed in their opinions.

Stop-loss is the practice of forcing soldiers who have finished their tours of duty to return to Iraq. Under military law, this can only be done in wartime. Under President George W. Bush, it has been done to several thousand troops in what may or may not be called wartime. “Stop-Loss” doesn’t address that legal point so much as the consequences. This movie is about the soldiers who are affected by this policy. It’s about war. It’s about 40 minutes too long.

There are some strong points. The dialogue is natural and flows well in most cases. Certain moments and scenes are affecting, and there is a general feeling of reality that hits closer to home than this genre sometimes does. Although a lot of it is obvious and heavy, there are also moments where characters become complex and situations become something other than black-and-white.

The acting ranges from good to great. Ryan Philippe proves himself to be more talented than I give him credit for, and Abbie Cornish, a relative newcomer, impresses as a Texan military girlfriend. The editing is interesting in a way that feels less than professional. It’s a little choppy in the way it blends slide shows and camcorder footage into the general film, and the soundtrack didn’t win any points in my book. But the real blow to “Stop-Loss” is the fact the filmmakers are trying to get a point across, and by God, they’re going to get it across if it takes two hours. Which it almost does.

The average, fair-minded citizen doesn’t need two hours to figure out that stop-loss is an unethical, backdoor draft and a horribly unfair thing to do to our soldiers. I was upset about the titular situation half an hour into the movie. An hour-and-a-half into the movie, I was checking my watch and wondering why the film kept going when the narrative had lost all of its steam.

“Stop-Loss” brings a controversial issue into the public eye, which is great. It forces civilians to try to put themselves in a soldier’s shoes. The pathos is all there. The problem is that we’ve seen it before. Had “Stop-Loss” arrived on the scene a year or so ago during the springtime of Iraq conflict films, it would have been greeted as one of the family. Right now, it’s just another war movie.

“Stop-Loss”Paramount PicturesWritten by Mark Richard and Kimberly PeirceDirected by Kimberly PeirceStarring Ryan Phillippe, Timothy Olyphant, Channing Tatum, and Abbie CornishRated R/113 min.Two- and- a- half out of four stars

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