Lions for Lambs
Cast: Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise
Direction: Robert Redford
What a wonderful cast! Three accomplished actors---who have 21 Oscar nominations and four wins between them---contribute immeasurably to this topical drama’s walloping impact.
Based on an original script by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Lions for Lambs is the seventh film directed by Robert Redford(Ordinary People, The Horse Whisperer).
He is also in top form as an idealistic university professor, who’s distraught by the decision of two scholarship students (Michael Pena-Derek Luke), to join the battle in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile in Washington DC, an over-ambitious senator (Cruise) outlines a controversial war strategy to a veteran television journalist (Streep). Clearly, he expects the media to toe the line. The multiple interlinked narrative strands are neatly tied up in the end.
<b1>Intelligently crafted, the critique of America’s war on terror is particularly relevant in the current conflicted climate. While Redford is obviously out to make a political statement, he is neither sanctimonious nor dense to the point of incomprehension. Instead of doling out facile advice, Redford’s take on the state of American politics invites discussion and debate.
Incidentally, the title refers to a comment made by a German general during World War I. Overawed by the British armed forces, he had said, “Never have I seen such lions led by such lambs”.
Despite the somewhat leisurely pace and the unduly verbose script, the outcome is a triumph of fine ensemble performances. The ever-extraordinary Meryl Streep attains new levels of poise and sensitivity. Tom Cruise is exceptional.
The collaboration of this stalwart trio yields a film that’s more than worthy of their talents and our time.