Movie Review: Lions for Lambs



In the Robert Redford-directed thriller Lions for Lambs, Derek Luke and Michael Pena play opinionated college students named Arian and Ernest respectively. At the head of the movie, these two friends ignite a fierce classroom debate that immediately forces the audience to stop and take a side on America’s fascination with patriotism.


With their passion for America-for-Americans, education and wasted money stance, the two men boast about getting involved. In a class presentation, they do a slide show on how to do away with the 11th grade, giving statistics on how much Americans would save as a result.  Sacrifice, save and serve are their ideas for saving America, and they subsequently join the war in Afghanistan.


Robert Redford does have a motive. He’s giving a voice to a case full of opinionated individuals that all come together after an American war goes wrong.

As the drama continues, the topic of war sparks a requested meeting with  seasoned TV journalist Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) and rising Republican Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise). In the midst of this interview, she decides to pocket the senator’s new plan for a war win (which could affect the fate of Arian and Ernest) and deal with whatever consequences come her way. Her consequence, or course, is patriotism.


Tom Cruise plays the senator with grace, poise and a fierce determination; it’s as if he’s begging the audience to believe in the government and America again.  His efforts are regarded as words with no meaning by Streep’s character. Always blowing away audiences with her range, Meryl Streep carries an unashamed innocence and unrelenting wisdom. Jasper Irving and Janine Roth’s fluid interview are pinnacles of suspense, partly because you realize that every step forward Janine makes, patriotism and Jasper gain two more. As their conversation comes to an abrupt end, we realize that it’s not our enemies that will ultimately destroy America, it’s our own greed for recognition as the greatest nation.


Terrorism does not lurk in this movie – you see it coming a satellite away.  Professor Dr. Malley (Robert Redford) confronts the matter with his prize student (Andrew Garfield) with disbelief and a gulp of his Starbucks coffee. Redford captures Dr. Malley’s emotion with a heroic sadness, as he alarmingly watches his era succumb to an age of senseless apathy. The professor knows that his purpose in life is to teach the next generations, but his fear is that no one will listen. His student’s conscience recoils at the ruthlessness displayed at their conversation’s end.


Lions for Lambs is so rich and thought-provoking, you’ll want to tell someone about it. It’s one of the best written films of the year.

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