Brad Pitt’s War Machine (the actor produced and stars in the film) debuted on Netflix this Memorial Day weekend to a dull thud instead of rocket’s red glare. Seems nobody really cared too much about this rather sympathetic version of one General Glenn McMahon who’s brought in to save the day and save face for the U.S. in Afganistan. McMahon is a stand-in for the real General Stanley McChrystal and Michael Hastings’ Rolling Stone article that ended McChrystal’s career. Don’t remember? The story highlighted his team’s somewhat private drinking-across-Europe escapades and fairly public criticism of the Obama administration (see unauthorized 60 Minutes interview).
War Machine is interesting. There’s something there. The film, unfortunately, lacks the satirical bite of a farce (as it was billed) zipping straight through the story of the General’s assignment to, attempted leadership of, and subsequent embarrassing departure from leading the NATO forces in the country. Pitt is immersed in the gruff and idealistic character but he seems to be the only one who got the memo it was a satire. The supporting cast is filled with actors (Anthony Michael Hall, Topher Grace, Tilda Swinton, Ben Kingsley) acting like it is straight drama giving the film a disjointed feel.
Really, really short review: Glad I saw it, glad I didn’t pay for it in the theater.