Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Stop Loss


Review by Chris Maitland

The U.S Military has a controversial program known as “Stop-Loss”, which reinstates solders in the army after their tour of duty is supposedly over. About 80,000 solders have been “Stop-Loss”-ed since the beginning of the current war in the Middle East.

The film Stop Loss centers around SSgt. Brandon King (Ryan Philippe). King is a war hero from Texas who, soon after his traumatic experiences in Iraq and his subsequent return stateside, finds out he has been ordered by the government to go right back. King does not take the news well. Within a day, he decides to go AWOL with his friend’s girlfriend in an attempt to escape from the military.

This film is pretty well done.   The acting of Phillpipe, Channing Tatum and especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as the mentally unstable, alcoholic, schizophrenic member of the platoon) is superb.  It does a good job of exploring the lives of soldiers and the toll that the war takes on them, not to mention the egregiously unfair burden that the government forces them to bear by superseding their wishes, which, if I may say, is a pretty crappy thing to do to the people who risk their lives for this country.  It is pretty eye-opening for the filmmakers to explore a topic like this without generating much controversy.

However, Stop Loss also has its down side.  The film drags in a few places, and the character of Channing Tatum’s girlfriend is more than a little annoying.  But overall, this movie is pretty good.  At its best, it’s a poignant look at the struggles of being a soldier and the toll that war takes on a human being.  At it’s worst, it’s a G.I. soap opera. But if you know someone who has served in the military or has lost someone who has died in combat, this is a must-see.  It’s not the greatest war film ever, but it will make you think.

3 ½ / 5 stars   

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