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CompleteMartialArts.com - Stop-Loss

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Manufacturer: Paramount / MTV
Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Abbie Cornish, Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Directed By: Kimberly Peirce
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5

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Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Binding: DVD
Brand: Paramount
EAN: 0097363476542
Format: Widescreen
Label: Paramount / MTV
Manufacturer: Paramount / MTV
Number Of Items: 1
Publisher: Paramount / MTV
Region Code: 1
Release Date: 2008-07-08
Running Time: 111
Studio: Paramount / MTV
Theatrical Release Date: 2008-03-29

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Editorial Reviews:

Studio: Paramount Home Video Release Date: 07/08/2008 Run time: 111 minutes Rating: R

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: Not totally accurate, but heartbreaking
Comment: How you feel about this movie will depend on how you feel about the invasion and occupation of Iraq in the first place. I've been reading 1-star reviews by pro-military people, including active duty soldiers saying, "These guys are cowards. If you volunteer, you're giving your life to the military, so do your duty." And 4-star reviews by people who are against the war, saying StopLoss captures the heartbreak and trauma this war has caused.

I know this movie isn't particularly accurate, but I still think it's strong. From the point of view of most of the world, this is a movie about the bad guys. These soldiers are people who, because of cultural and economic pressure, joined the military thinking they were protecting their country. But the military (and the whole government) were controlled by war criminals.

They were sent into a battle that had nothing to do with 9/11. It was the product of leaders who wanted to conquer the world. They were betrayed into becoming the Imperial Storm Troopers from Star Wars. And when they try to get out, they are stop-lossed and sent back.

I know a lot of soldiers will strongly disagree (although I know some who agree just as strongly.) I know most soldiers try to do the right thing. But you can't do right when you're put into a situation where there is no right, in a country where you were never wanted. I think Stop Loss captures their helplessness very well.

I only wish the movie makers had mentioned the possibility of refusing orders and doing your time, instead of running away or going back. Of soldiers who have refused to return, almost nobody has had to do more than a year. IMO, that's better than facing death or PTSD, or becoming a war criminal.
But see the film and decide for yourself. Learn more at the CouragetoResist web site.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Stop the Losses
Comment: This movie has a strong anti-war message but presents it in a way that does not dishonor or diminish the soldiers on the front line. It does however offer a pointed and legitimate critique of the government and military leaders. The acting is solid, each character with their own hopes, biases, struggles and loyalties. The painful reality of combat and its indelible impact on those who fight speaks for itself and challenges viewers to look at what they believe in and why.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Wow!
Comment: How decent, brave, fairly naive kids get taken advantage of, is what this film invites us to think about. It is more a film about the psychological casualties of war stateside than about battle in Iraq. There is just enough battle to show why kids might have bad dreams and family problems when they get home, and so those scenes were necessarily condensed.This may be somewhat unrealistic, and certainly not representative for all soldiers, much as Jarhead may be not representative of everyone with regard to the boredom side of being in the military.

I do think absolutely that we should honor men and women who enlist with their eyes wide open. But many kids tend to have their eyes wide shut and the system too often takes advantage of this. This has been explored in many films. Gallipoli is one of my favorites. In Stop Loss as in the Australian film Gallipoli the kids were rather simple boys. Stop Loss deals with more or less beer-drinking small-town rural kids who are basically robust and any disillusionment does not come to the surface on the battlefield, although they are getting some kind of wake-up but they are tough and adaptable and it stays within.

The serious psychological conflicts erupt when they get back home for awhile. I think that the acting here of conflicted youth and the different individual ways of handling it (or not) is really great and the best feature of the film. Statistically sure not every soldier experiences post traumatic stress and/or family problems - but the point is that when it does happen, and it surely does! -- it can take many forms from subtle to quite overt.

It is easier to remember the dead than the damaged. I find it offensive that we honor the dead as heroes and too often treat the psychologically damaged as though they are not full human beings but rather "weak," or "cowards," or "misfits." In this particular war we even seem to try to keep the physically damaged soldiers out of the public mind, and bring the dead back quietly to keep the coffins away from the media.

Maybe this is the price of an all volunteer army, to keep the unpleasant stuff out of sight so that those kids who are naive will enlist with their eyes wide shut. Stop Loss offers kids an opportunity to think through some of the unpleasant things of which they may be unaware.

But even for an older person like me I think the film was a very well done fictional exploration of some of the home front realities of wars and of the War in Iraq in particular.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: Stop Loss by Brandon
Comment: This movie was o.k. I thought it would be better than it was. The story was good and so were the actors, but it had too many cliches and the movie was too drawn out. Average.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Soldier Rebels Against "Back Door Draft"
"Stop-Loss," the second feature film directed by Kimberly Peirce, focuses on a group of army buddies. We see them in a fire fight in Tikrit, Iraq that leaves several in their squad either dead or severely injured.
Their leader, Sgt. Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe), is thrilled to complete his tour of duty and return to his Texas hometown. There, he is greeted as a hero, decorated with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and told by his senator to look him up in Washington if he needs anything. Civilian life is looking good to Brandon when he is unexpectedly ordered back to Iraq, or stop-lossed.
Outraged at the army's failure to fulfill its part of his contract, Brandon decides to fight the order. Instead of going back to base, he goes to Washington to seek the help of the senator. But because he is AWOL, the senator will not see him. He has become a fugitive, with both military and local police looking for him.
This is the first film about Iraq to really engage the viewer. "Rendition," "Redacted," and "Lions for Lambs" were more preachy than entertaining, and never attracted large audiences. "Stop-Loss" is a far more personal look at the human dimension of one policy, rather than an outright condemnation of the war,
Brandon and his pals Steve (Channing Tatum), Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and Rico (Victor Rasuk) are good soldiers. They do their duty, facing danger at every turn without complaint. In fact, Steve objects when he learns that Brandon is going against orders to fight a system he feels is unjust. Brandon refers to the stop-loss policy as a back-door draft -- keeping soldiers after their contracts are up because recruitment is down and every one is needed to fight in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
At first, Peirce wanted to make a documentary about the stop-loss policy and interviewed some actual soldiers, but eventually settled on this fictional film using stop-loss as its key plot point. She may have been too ambitious in telling Brandon's story and intercutting it with Tommy's self-destructive alcoholism and Steve's shaky relationship with his girlfriend, Michele (Amy Cornish). Earlier films, such as "The Deer Hunter" and "Coming Home," have dealt with post-war trauma of returning soldiers, so the scenes involving Tommy and Steve are pretty predictable. Phillippe is a fine actor who is just now getting larger roles in films. He was excellent in both "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Breach," and now adds another exceptional performance with "Stop-Loss." With a believable Texas twang, his Brandon registers as a regular guy who has become an excellent soldier. He would no more think of disobeying an order than juggling scorpions. He is respectful, honest, obedient, and courageous. But he never comes across as a goody-goody. He enjoys kicking back a few beers and raising hell on Saturday night with his pals. So his Everyman is a guy we look up to. When he decides to go AWOL, it is both dramatic and shocking. Phillippe portrays Brandon not as a guy who wants to run. His first instinct is to right an injustice, but the army, politics, and bureaucracy conspire against him.
The film has great strengths. The opening sequence, beautifully staged and edited, shows Brandon in Iraq leading his men into what turns out to be an ambush. We get a real feel for the fear that soldiers deployed in Iraq must undergo. Trapped in a narrow alley, their vehicle and heavy machine gun destroyed, they have to battle gunfire from the roofs on both sides of the street, sheltering in strange buildings where death can wait at every turn. These scenes rank with the most realistic movie battle scenes.
Another strong scene is Brandon's visit to Rico in a veteran's hospital. Rico is severely disabled from the ambush in Iraq, yet retains his sense of humor and optimism. As squad leader, Brandon feels responsibility for Rico's condition, yet is helpless to do more than pay him a visit and offer encouragement. Rasuk, first seen on screen five years ago in "Raising Victor Vargas," is a natural actor with great charm. His small role and one memorable scene add resonance to the story, contrasting Rico's constructive attitude with Tommy's inability to get a grip on civilian life.
I was happy to see that Peirce avoided typical pitfalls. A road trip Brandon takes with Michele, for example, remains just that, with no romantic complications. The relationship between Brandon and his buddy's girlfriend is not typical Hollywood, and that's precisely why it rings true.
"Stop-Loss," rated R, is both the engaging story of one soldier trapped by an unfair, desperate practice, and a cautionary tale of how government policy can betray those who fight our wars.

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