War Machine - Review

Other than the crippling fear of dying from nuclear war any day now, it is an amazing time to be alive. We can get new big budget movies on any device you own that has an internet connection. One of those movies is War Machine starring Brad Pitt that premiered exclusively on Netflix. (Minor Spoilers ahead).

War Machine is a satirical take on the real life firing of General Stanley McChyrstal. Names are changed and liberties are taken, but it never tries to hide this fact. It is a proud satire, not one that pretends to be a biopic but is really a satire.

The thing that really endeared me to the film is that it didn't seem to glorify war, nor did it seem to be anti-war. It just dealt with war as a fact. It was also refreshing to see the politics of it. Most war movies show the physical front line battles of war. More often than not, those are fascinating, and they always will be. But this was a different take and it was fun to watch it unfold.

95% of the movie is talking. 95% of the talking is Brad Pitt having so much fun playing Glen McMahon. When an actor has fun playing a role, the audience generally has more fun watching them perform it. To top it off, there were a ton of really amazing Oscar caliber cameos for him to play off of. The acting is really one of the highlights of the entire film. I don't know if they felt they had more liberties because it was a Netflix release, or if the director envisioned it that way from the beginning, but everyone seemed to be having a great time.

As the story unfolds it is great to see how much humor can be effectively injected into such a serious story. After all, this is about a real person in a real war.

If you don't know much about the real life story, it doesn't matter; you can still enjoy this film. It gives you all the information you need and doesn't do it in a way that feels like it is being read out of a text book.

Another stand out is RJ Cyler. He stole the show in the Power Rangers movie out this year, and while his part was small in this he was memorable. The kid is going to be a bonafide movie star, and I am excited to watch his journey in becoming one.

The film runs just over two hours and it feels a bit long. If they made it tighter and trimmed some of the fat, it could have been paced a bit better.  There were a lot of character moments but by the end of the second act you have enough of the character development needed and can start the sprint to the ending. That doesn't happen though, it takes its time with little to no payoff for all of that time.

Movies that are mostly talking can be amazing - when they are written by filmmakers who are gifted in dialogue. War Machine had a lot of exposition with character development sprinkled in. Luckily most of it is so entertaining that you can forgive the stuff that isn't.

If you are familiar with the story, you know where it is headed. So there is no shock or surprise to the story. The journey getting there is fun though, so the film still feels worth watching.

Overall, this is a strong "Netflix Original Film". It is nice to see them do ones that don't star Adam Sandler.

If you have a Netflix subscription (or access to somebody's password) and you are interested in this sort of thing, it is worth a view. Bonus: if you realize it isn't what you thought it was, you don't have to walk out of a theater feeling like you wasted money. You can just shut it off and turn on an episode of Frasier or something.

This might be the better option than going to the theater to see the new Pirates movie, and no one will throw garbage at you if you go to watch this movie without wearing pants. (Theaters seem to frown on that).

War Machine is now on Netflix.


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