Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"The Men Who Stare at Goats" (2009) - Movie Review

The extent in which US Army would compete against the Russians makes the veracity “The Men Who Stare Goats” highly possible. In its effort to weave a story into that absurdity is hope of high aspirations. Grant Heslov directed feature rather speaks that absurdity without a flinch of embarrassment or self conscious of how ridiculous it would appear to the others. But that is the point of it and the odd experience gets the viewer through the journey with some mild and good laughs.

George Clooney pushes his charm out of the circle the studio might try to get him caged. He undertakes roles which defies that good looks and sends out a message. One’s look is purely based on their personality than the physicality the nature birthed them into this earth. Lyn Cassady is the man Clooney plays. He is considered to be one of the best in the psychic soldiers the US Army trained in the eighties. He is the protégé of Bill Django (Jeff Bridges). The history of the First Earth Battalion, a hippie generation in the US Army is told through Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor), a journalist in the quest to prove something of his existence.

Wilton broken by his recent separation from his wife who left him for his editor ventures upon to the hot zone of Iraq in 2003. Unable to pass through the borders, he meets Cassady, a strange man looking nothing but suspicious. Wilton has heard the man’s name when he interviewed a local for his newspaper. When a journalist is in the hunt for a story, they need to observe than to react. Thus Wilton observed the craziness when the local explained about the establishment of so called “Jedi” warriors trained by the US Army. Wilton meets Cassady at a low point in his life and he begins to ride the journey for something crazy and thus promoting his valour to his wife.

The powers Cassady explains are facade to the real techniques. At one point Cassady asks Wilton to choke him. Wilton asks what he is going to do and the reply is mind interception. When Wilton tries to choke Cassady, the man twists the arm of the poor reporter but immediately asks whether he felt a hesitancy before the attempt. Wilton says he did. Wilton is ready to get into this madness.

As much as I would state that this out of the norm psychic technique is a farce, the characters in the movie apply some simple sense to that. The founder and head of the First Earth Battalion Bill is a Vietnam war veteran and when his army gets attacked by a young kid, the soldiers are ordered to fire and they do. Every one of them miss their target when the boy aims cleanly at Bill. Bill gets a revelation and a statistics to back him. Most of the soldiers fire their weapons at a target with no intent to kill. This kind of common sense makes the film’s audience to believe that these young soldiers believed that phenomenon too.

“The Men Who Stare at Goats” has the satirical laugh out loud moments. The mind magic decisions Cassady makes results in a failure in the most unexpected manner. As much as the film is a surreal satire, Heslov sticks to the reality of the scenario. Small moments of human touch are spread across but in the end the film is little bit clueless as Cassady itself. Cassady claims to be reactivated and is in pursuit of a mission. The mission is never revealed and when it does in the Hollywood way, it is disappointing in small proportions.

Heslov basing his film on the book by Jon Ronson who investigated this unbelievable sector of command dedicated to psychic weaponry pulls in some serious talents. Apart from the unique Clooney, Jeff Briges, Kevin Spacey and Ewan McGregor act on the belief they have for this weird but potential material. I got a strange sense coming out of “The Men Who Stare at Goats”, which always happens when there is an indecisiveness on stamping a film to be good or bad.

No comments: