DRAMA; 1hr 32min
STARRING: Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Andrew Garfield
Talking turkey: Streep and Cruise
Demanding attention from the word go, Lions for Lambs is a streamlined dovetailing of three storylines, whose title —taken from a World War I German soldier’s condemning observation about young British soldiers led to the slaughter by inept commanding officers — is its thematic blueprint. Cruise, perfectly cast, is a sharky Republican senator, barrelling through an agenda-flogging interview with a veteran Washington, DC, television journalist (Streep). Redford, who directs, is a California university professor attempting to persuade a disillusioned student (Garfield) to re-engage with his studies. As these encounters play out, US troops are implementing a new strategy in Afghanistan. It fails dismally at the outset, leaving two soldiers (Michael Pena and Derek Luke) injured in enemy territory.
If these two men are the heartbeat of Matthew Michael Carnahan’s persuasive screenplay, then director Redford is its righteous conscience. Alternately challenging and condemning, their driving manifesto is about the creeping consequences of looking the other way, and the often terrible price paid by those who step up to the plate.