Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016)

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Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Ang Lee takes four years to bring forth his followup to Life of Pi. I thought Life of Pi was phenomenal. it was a stunning visual experience and through creative storytelling we got a really memorable film. When I saw the trailer for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk I wasn’t very impressed because I couldn’t really discern what the film was about. The film just sort of got lost in the shuffle at the end of the year, and now having seen it I am glad it did just disappear from the awards mix.

The film is about a group of soldiers who are being honored at the halftime show at a Thanksgiving Dallas Cowboys football game. The film is portrayed through the perspective of one of those soldiers, Billy Lynn. The entire film takes place during this game and is littered with flashbacks of the war and events with family all seen through Billy’s eyes. The film sounds decent on paper but the delivery was off and the film ended up being a long and uninteresting cliched film that is one of Ang Lee’s weakest efforts in  recent memory.

The film set the record for having the highest frame rate and I was thinking why? Ang Lee is fairly innovative and his cinematography can be remarkable. However going for the high frame rate for a drama like this with little action made no sense. The characters pop out at you and look too lively and it just comes off really weird. It should have been saved for a different film. There are moments where characters dialogue right into the camera and it’s just odd. Some scenes do pop out at you, especially the actual depiction of the halftime show but its not enough to be a saving grace for the film.

The film stereotypes American soldiers and some aren’t portrayed favorably. The war time scenes and relating depiction of PTSD doesn’t really break any new ground or ever really touch you emotionally. In fact, its disconnecting. The film tries to cram in a ridiculous love story with a cheerleader for the sake of having a relationship in the film. The dialogue is cheesy and feels artificial as its too sudden and unrealistic. The films flashback format really hurts the film as while some of the flashbacks are necessary and interesting, the return to the present reminds you of how dull and drab the present sequence is.

I think this is a great debut for Joe Alwyn who portrays a stern-faced under pressure Billy Lynn very well. The film also has a solid Kristen Stewart and a rare appearance in film from Chris Tucker. Its a shame they are wasted in a film with nothing to really offer the talent that was gathered. Its just a disappointment that something as visionary and monumental as Life of Pi was followed up by a generic, flawed, undeserving disappointment of a film.

5/10

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