Continued from… Marty vs. Clint: Round Two
… while Marty enjoys relieved hosannas from the fanbase that wants him to do crime dramas forever, my guess is that Clint -- still coasting from the extravagant love that greeted Million Dollar Baby, won’t enjoy as much warmth for Flags of Our Fathers.
Even for moviegoers who found Baby to be wildly overpraised, it was hard to argue with its solid storytelling: tightly constructed, intimate and moving. Eastwood’s new WW II picture is more ambitious in concept and theme but shakier in execution.
The movie examines the lives of three soldiers: Doc, Chief, and Gagnon. They are played by Ryan Phillipe, Adam Beach (the film’s only hope for Oscary acting recognition) and Jesse Bradford, Our Man of Perpetual Smirk, respectively. They were captured in the photo of soldiers raising the stars and stripes atop Iwo Jima. We soon learn that this flag raising, however evocatively frozen in time, was hardly the definitive moment in reality that it came to be once the myth-making machinery was done with it. It’s interesting subject for a movie.
Unfortunately the movie doesn't sufficiently reward interest in its premise. The problems start with the shuffling of flashbacks to the war, flashbacks to the bond tour celebrating the photograph, and present day interviews with former soldiers. This three pronged stop and go often kills the dramatic momentum and plays awkwardly throughout the movie. Transitioning from flashbulbs to explosions: this is something we’ve seen a million times before. Further compounding the choppy drama are the one dimensional characterizations on display. These roles aren’t exactly complex on paper (Doc is thoughtful and quiet, Chief is drunk and angry, and Gagnon loves attention) and the performances, even the stronger ones, do little to deepen the initial impressions.
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