With the Iraqi "occupation" in full swing, war movies are to be expected. Stop Loss focuses on the soldiers themselves and the devastating effects the war has had placed upon them. When a soldier is stop lossed, s/he has completed his/her tour of duty, yet is unexpectedly reassigned and placed back in to the fight.
Brandon (Ryan Phillippe), Steve (Channing Tatum) and Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) have just finished their tours of duty when Brandon finds out he has been stop lossed and must return. Although he is proud of being a soldier, he can't bear to go back. The injury and death of men in under his command has profoundly affected him and he adamantly wants to leave it behind. But upon discussing this with his superiors, he learns there's been no mistake--he's a good soldier who is needed by this country to continue serving.
(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)
That's when Brandon goes AWOL. Steve and Tommy are experiencing their own issues in their relationships. Michelle (Abbie Cornish), Steve's girlfriend, helps Brandon abscond, at risk to her relationship. As they are on the run, the plot uncovers itself. This is when Brandon goes from 2-D to 3-D. You get to know Brandon and what's important to him. He's a man of integrity, although to his soldier peers, especially Steve, Brandon's choices are anger-inducing; Steve can't understand--is it because he is unsure what he'd do without the military? This is an important question. It's left for you to ponder. Brandon's choices are consistent with what you have learned about him and that feels REAL.
This is an evocative, timely film. Kimberly Peirce has created a tightly woven, thought-provoking piece on a polarizing topic. I highly highly recommend this one.
Themes: Iraq war, loyalty, courage, friendship
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Minutes: 112 minutes