Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Home of the Brave DVD

As a fan of war movies, especially those that show the horror of war, I had high expectations for the release of Home of the Brave. I wanted to see this movie, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Beal, and 50 Cent among others in the theater. With the past work of director Irwin Winkler I thought this would be a “can not fail movie,” and the DVD would feature a ton of special features that would enlighten the story.

The movie Home of the Brave starts off with a group of soldiers serving in Iraq. It is one of the few times that some of the deleted scenes would have helped the movie. These soldiers, many a part of their local National Guard units have just been given the news they are going to be headed back home to the states shortly. They have another mission to complete, an escort that provides service to a local hospital when they are hit with an attacked by the enemy. The attack leaves these good intentioned soldiers at a place where they will forever be emotionally trapped with the horror of war. Not everyone makes it through the attack, and while the remainder gets to eventually go home, they continue to deal with the difficulty and horror of war. Home of the Brave follows the lives of four individuals who end up uniquely tied together.

Home of the Brave has an extremely talented cast with wonderfully filmed sequences, whether fighting in Iraq or struggling with the difficulties faced back home. Unfortunately, while there is a talented cast, the story is not tied together and what we end up having is a hodge podge that leaves the viewer lost and at times confused.

We see struggles among each of the characters; Samuel Jackson is having difficulty at home with his wife and children. Jessica Biel’s character Vanessa has relational issues and finds it difficult to trust, while Tommy Yates, played by Brian Presley is searching for answers to the conflict and pain experienced but not having success. One of the surprises is with the character Jamal Aiken played by Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson. This character played surprisingly well has life changing horrors that follow him home. Unfortunately we don’t see enough of the character. As each of these characters struggle with the consequences of war the story attempts to bring them together, although not nearly as tightly as I would have liked.

Despite the failures of story, and character development, there is much this movie causes one to think about in a beneficial way. It is easy to look at the headlines of the war in Iraq, or any war for that matter and not think of the long term consequences of war. There are long term consequences that do not end on the battlefield but often continue on in the battlefield of life. The battlefield of others accepting and understanding what the troops have been through, and the struggle of any one facing the difficulty of not being understood by those they come into contact with, whether family or friend. If in fact, family and friend have difficulty understanding the horrors faced by loved ones, we see how difficult it is for others outside the circle to understand. We see characters trying to understand themselves, from moments of reflective prayer, to having to face serious issues with family, friends, and ultimately with ones self..

I appreciated that Home of the Brave did not take a stand on the war; we have enough political pundits telling us what to think. Instead the focus is on the individuals it needs to be on, those who have served and come face to face with the horror of war, not just the soldier, but the family member at home having to deal with all of the issues faced in day to day life while their loved one is away. I just wish the story development for this would have been given more attention. I was also disappointed with the DVD as there are not nearly enough special features to give clarity to the story, film making, and understanding. In fact the DVD was somewhat bland as DVD’s and special features normally go.

While Home of the Brave is worth watching, don’t go into it with high expectations. If you go into it just to enjoy a couple of hours, you will be good to go. It may help you truly understand the troops in order to actually support the troops, not just in war time, but in their return home. If looking for a more powerful story, one that deals with tragedy and war, there are other fine examples of movies to see, from Full Metal Jacket, to The Deer Hunter among others. Home of the Brave may not be nearly as intense as these movies, but, it will provide subtle thoughts as to the horror of war, and the tragedy of war that often comes home with the troops.

To see the official trailer for Home of the Brave, double click on the following video. If the video don't appear, click on the link.


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