Nearly two years ago, in June of 2015, Netflix announced deal to distribute War Machine, a satirical war film starring and produced by Brad Pitt. The film promised to take a unique look at the war in Afghanistan, through the story of a character loosely based on the former General Stanley McCrystal, and now the second trailer has been released by the streaming service.
The film, based on the nonfiction book The Operators by the late journalist Michael Hastings, was an intriguing play on several fronts: It marked possibly Netflix’s highest-profile feature film commitment to date, as well as a business pair-up with Pitt’s Plan B production company. It told a fascinating story, based on true life, while also bringing cinematic life to the work of Hastings, an acclaimed author who died in a car accident in 2013 at age 33. A teaser debuted back in March, a full trailer about a month later, and now we have another trailer, ahead of the film’s Netflix arrival in late May.
The trailer paints a picture of War Machine as a satire about war that depicts Pitt’s general character, and the American war effort itself, as in over their heads. There are also glimpses of the film’s expansive supporting cast, including Ben Kingsley as the president of Afghanistan, as well as Emory Cohen, Topher Grace, John Magaro, and Scoot McNairy. There are also some ‘80s movie luminaries, including Alan Ruck, Meg Tilly, Griffin Dunne, and Anthony Michael Hall, with Hall playing a character based on someone very much in the news these days, Gen. Michael Flynn.
Based on the trailer, War Machine looks promising. Coming from Australian director David Michod (Animal Kingdom, The Rover), it appears to have a good visual style and breezy tone, with a great cast at its disposal. Pitt is always magnetic on screen, and has been doing very interesting things as an actor as he move into his 50s.
On the other hand, films about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have something of a mixed track record; of all of them only American Sniper was a hit and only The Hurt Locker won any Oscars. It appears from the trailer that it’s making points already made by numerous other films. And various fights between Netflix and the traditional distribution model have likely hurt the chances of any Netflix feature to seriously compete for awards this year.
War Machine arrives on Netflix May 26, 2017.