Stop-Loss (R)

Drama 113 March 28, 2008
By Scott Foundas
Serving, for today’s audience, roughly the same cathartic purpose that movies like Coming Home and The Deer Hunter did for audiences of the ’70s, Kimberly Peirce’s Stop-Loss directly addresses the unpleasant aftershocks of our latest unpopular war from the perspective of the soldiers themselves. It could easily have been called The Worst Years of Our Lives. There are moments here that crackle with uncanny verisimilitude, particularly the early scenes in which Sergeants Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) and Steve Shriver (Channing Tatum) return to their small-town Texas home amidst much pomp, circumstance, and streaming tinsel. As she ably demonstrated in her previous film, the Oscar-winning Boys Don’t Cry, this is the sort of thing that Peirce (who co-authored the Stop-Loss screenplay with Mark Richard) does very well: She puts blue-collar, red-state American life on-screen without glib irony or smug disdain. But Stop-Loss is on considerably shakier ground once the title—shorthand for a loophole in military contracts that allows soldiers to be redeployed in wartime even after fulfilling the terms of their service—comes home to roost, and Peirce shifts her focus from the vicissitudes of small-town life to one man’s fight against the military-industrial complex.
Kimberly Peirce Ryan Phillippe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rob Brown, Channing Tatum, Victor Rasuk, Terry Quay, Matthew Scott Wilcox, Connett Brewer, Timothy Olyphant, Josef Sommer Kimberly Peirce, Mark Richard Scott Rudin, Kimberly Peirce, Mark Roybal, Gregory Goodman Paramount Pictures