It should not have come as such a surprise to me what Stop-Loss really is. It presents itself as this generation’s Deer Hunter, but it’s actually just another mindless film that, once stripped down to its essentials, is intended only to further a blatant political agenda. I keep hearing that the film is intended to honor our troops, but it presents all of them as mentally messed up idiots who are a hair away from committing crime sprees akin to Natural Born Killers. The aforementioned Deer Hunter also offered up a bleak image of the mental health of vets returning from war, but centered on a particular case. I have no doubt that war affects everyone who participates, but I’ve known returning soldiers who did manage to cope.
As Stop-Loss opens, we are introduced to a company operating a checkpoint in
At its core the film could have been more effective if it had not been riddled with inaccuracies and negative spin control. Stop-Loss is actually nothing new. While the film attempts to present the practice as a new Bush-created plan to cheat our troops out of extra service, the concept has always existed in one form or another. The film constantly refers to it as a back door draft, another misleading term. In a draft ordinary citizens are required to serve in the military. No one is being plucked out of their homes here. When you sign up for the service, your contract specifically spells out that your tour can be extended. Every veteran is subjected to an emergency reactivation clause no matter how long they have served. It is also true that Stop-Loss personnel would not have been given such short notice when to return. Typically these troops are given up to a year before they return to duty. The film misquotes the President when
The film isn’t even really about either Stop-Loss or the Iraq War. The filmmakers have even lost their own ideas in a convoluted plot that simply drags the film into a mentally numbing abyss. There’s only the opening combat scene as far as war action, so it’s not even going to appeal to the war film crowd. None of the performances are particularly inspiring. The soldiers are cardboard characters with little beyond what serves the master plan in personality.
Stop-Loss is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. There’s a lot of stylish camcorder type of footage here which is particularly bad. The jumpy cuts and poor quality don’t mix well with the more modern film elements. For the most part this is a very average image beyond the cam material. Black levels are fair, and detail is also very average. There’s a very dark tone throughout the film, so that colors are quite dark even in brighter conditions. I’m sure most of this is intended for mood.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track delivers in the films opening moments. The battle provides wonderful use of surrounds and sub to make you truly experience the battle. Unfortunately once the combat ends the dynamic audio also ceases. The film enters a very center speaker humdrum. The track becomes saturated with mids. Dialog is usually fine, although there are moments the cast appear to be mumbling somewhat. I expect there was minimal ADR work performed to enhance some of the dialog.
There is an Audio Commentary with the writers, but it is mostly the “how cool is that” to political spin.
Deleted Scenes: There are 11 scenes provided with or without Kimberley Pierce commentary. There is also the handy Play All option. None of the 11 scenes help to explain anything. They provide just more of the same along with an additional character played by Alex Frost who was completely cut from the film.
Making Of Stop-Loss: Pierce constantly tells us that this is a war film told from the soldier’s perspective. Huh? She was correct when she says that if you don’t do even one little thing right everything’s off. Guess what, Kim? Everything’s off.
A Day In Boot Camp: Even though the combat scene is over almost as soon as it gets started, the actors went to one of those actor boot camps to learn the correct usage of guns and such.
This film is strictly for liberals who want to have a love fest and tell each other how much they care about everybody. That’s all fine, but what about caring about making a good film? Pierce shows her colors when she calls the battle to get the attackers a “revenge mission.” I guess she considers cops going after bad guys revenge missions as well. Hopefully they can gather at her house and be safe. She disrespects our President. She disrespects our troops. She disrespects her audience. I can’t speak for the fairness or not of Stop-Loss. It’s in the contract that is freely signed. But making a reviewer have to watch Stop-Loss, the film: “It just isn’t fair”.