SXSW FILM FESTIVAL
SXSW Review: Stop Loss
by Ken Evans
March 15, 2008
My expectations were pretty low going into this one and the movie didn't even meet those expectations. To me nothing was appealing in the trailer or plot synopsis that I read heading into Stop Loss. I'm not a Ryan Phillippe or Channing Tatum fan, so other then Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I was almost dreading sitting through this. Turns out that this was exactly what I thought it would be - an uninteresting look at army soldiers who have come back from Iraq war.
Stop Loss is mostly about Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) just having returned from Iraq thinking his term had been completed. When he returns to base to turn in his stuff and get his release papers signed they tell him he has been stop-lossed, which basically means the government is forcing him to return to war for an undisclosed amount of time. Furious and unwilling to obey his orders, King goes AWOL and begins a mission to fight against returning to war against his will.
We were actually able to hear some comments from director Kimberly Peirce before the movie started. She talked a lot about how we have had more of a glimpse into our troops at war than ever before. Specifically she talked about the video montages that troops have made and brought back to show friends and family. Watching those and being affected by them, she wanted to integrate those into the film. Unfortunately, these fake videos she put together for the film seemed to serve no purpose other then being very gimmicky.
No one stood out in the film with any great performances. Like I said above, I'm not a Phillippe or Tatum fan and they didn't change my mind in this. I am a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but he barely had any screen time, which I was extremely disappointed about. Although I'm not a fan of Phillippe, I can take him or leave him. However, Channing Tatum should bow out of film and be banned from ever acting again. He is so wooden and uninteresting no matter what character he plays.
One of my least favorites of SXSW, I definitely wouldn't suggest this to anyone. A film made up of poor performances, overplayed gimmicks, and a muddled meaning. This will probably do well due to Phillippe's star appeal and its mix of anti-war and fulfilling your duty messages. Skip this one if you can.