Reviewer’s grade: B+
Ryan Phillippe (“Cruel Intentions,” “Breach”) stars as Sgt. Brandon King, a young Army enlistee back in the heart of Texas after his final mission in Iraq. He’s accompanied through the war and back by childhood best friend Steve Shriver (Channing Tatum, “She’s the Man”).
The two are given a hero’s welcome and a parade, and the two friends are relieved that life seems to be going back to normal, despite their nightmares and drinking problems. When King is told he’s being “stop-lossed” and shipped back to Iraq, he decides he simply cannot go back. He goes AWOL, but soon realizes his options are extremely limited.
As a fictional condemnation of stop-lossing and the war in general, “Stop-Loss” is emotionally very powerful. At the same time, there are other messy issues that come with the package including amputees, broken relationships, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress syndrome out the wahzoo. Rather than clarifying any of these issues and providing some sort of perspective, “Stop-Loss” just reminds us we’re not even close to seeing the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel in Iraq. It’s not the filmmaker’s fault; it’s just too soon. R