Movies about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it’s fair to say, have something of a mixed record. The early years of the war were dotted with heavy-handed anti-war films like In the Valley of Elah, Stop-Loss and Lions For Lambs. Later on, The Hurt Locker was a critical smash (as well as a Best Picture Oscar-winner), while Lone Survivor and American Sniper were both big box office hits (and played well with more conservative audiences too).
Later this year, there’s another cinematic treatment of the Iraq War on the way: Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. It’s based on a popular 2012 novel of the same name by Ben Fountain and is directed by Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.) The first full-length trailer for the film has now been released online.
The trailer, which can be viewed above, lays out the film’s premise: Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) is a young veteran of the Iraq War, being honored at halftime of a football game. While standing on the field, Lynn looks back on the battle in Iraq that led to the honor, something he appears to remember with mixed feelings.
The Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk film’s eclectic cast includes Kristen Stewart (as Billy’s sister), Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Tim Blake Nelson and Steve Martin. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is also notable for being the first movie to shoot in 120 frames per second.
There’s a lot to look forward to here. The film, judging by the trailer, has a fantastic visual look; even Lee’s lesser films have always tended to look fantastic. That cast is certainly something, and I’m already looking forward to seeing Steve Martin play a smarmy bureaucrat. It’s based on a book that’s very highly regarded. And the film seems prepared to address an important issue that’s been raised from time to time by political commentators but not so much on screen: That while America is great at honoring the sacrifice of soldiers at football games, we’re not so adept at taking care of veterans in other ways.
Whether Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk can be a box office success is another question. In the post-9/11 era, films with an anti-war bent have tended to not be hits, and while Alwyn somewhat resembles a very young Matt Damon, his name isn’t going to sell the film. Then again, the source material is very popular, and even American Sniper had a more idiosyncratic viewpoint about war than some people gave it credit for.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk will open in U.S. theaters (including IMAX 3D screens) on November 11th, 2016
Source: Sony Pictures Entertainment