Brad Pitt is no stranger to cinematic combat, having starred in an array of war movies from the traditional (Fury), to the epic-historical (Troy), to the romantic-spy-thriller variety (Allied) to the Tarantino-ized (Inglourious Basterds). And for good measure, you can throw in his battle against hordes of swarming, insect-like zombies in the horror movie World War Z. For his next foray into the theater of war, Pitt tackles a character based on a real-life United States general whose sometimes-absurd exploits on the ground in Afghanistan became the subject of a best-selling non-fiction book.
The movie War Machine stars Pitt as Gen. Glen McMahon, a smart and self-confident military leader (based on real general Stanley McChrystal) who is sent into the quagmire of Afghanistan to clean up the mess left by his predecessors. But is it even possible to clean up this particular mess, or has McMahon been given a completely hopeless task that can only strand him in an almost surrealistically absurd, Joseph Heller-esque situation?
In the new War Machine trailer (watch it above), we see Pitt looking like a veritable parody of the American fighting man, squinting and jutting his jaw like a well-groomed, made-for-TV Sgt. Rock. Though the suits indicate they just want Pitt to put on a good show so they can get out, the general who was chosen for his “drive” seems intent on bringing the 8-year campaign to some kind of satisfactory close. It’s hard to pin down the movie’s tone from the trailer, but the official synopsis touts the film as “part reality, part savage parody.”
Spinning parody directly out of reality is something Brad Pitt also has experience with, after co-producing the offbeat Oscar-nominated financial-meltdown film The Big Short. Pitt’s production team from The Big Short is mostly on-hand for War Machine, but director Adam McKay has been replaced by writer/director David Michod, a who comes from a background of directing gritty, down-beat dramas like The Rover and Animal Kingdom – movies about scrapping characters trying to survive in harsh, sometimes brutal worlds.
A lot of different things appear to be meshing in War Machine: The true-life subject matter taken from Michael Hastings’ book The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan; Brad Pitt’s performance which at least on the surface looks like something from a Coen Brothers movie; David Michod’s particular storytelling sensibilities which lean toward the grim and sometimes ugly; and a Big Short-like approach to political satire.
It’s hard to tell from the trailer how exactly all these different things will come together, whether the movie will play as broad comedy or some kind of drama-comedy hybrid or something totally unique. War Machine hits Netflix on May 26th, 2017 and then we’ll see what madness Brad Pitt and his partners have put together.
Source: Netflix US & Canada
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