Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
There are lots of tensions in this movie, which the viewer will
feel acutely along with the characters.
Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) is an American soldier on leave from
Iraq. His unit, the Bravo
Squad, was captured on film in some battlefield heroics, particularly
Billy. So the surviving
squad members (they lost their commanding sergeant) were brought home
not just for R & R, but a PA Tour, where they were supposed to be
the showpieces of America's Finest bravely defending our country.
Except this was the War where we weren't exactly defending, we
are invading Iraq because of the reports of “weapons of mass
destruction,” only to not find them when we arrived.
You can blame the faulty intel or the overzealous White House
or even the trap-baiting Sadam Hussein, but finger-pointing aside,
we're over there, and our soldiers are in harm's way.
Billy Lynn received a Silver Star for his personal heroism, but
deep down, he's just a scared 19-year-old kid whose training kicked in
at the right moment. He
obviously looked up to Shroom (Vin Diesel), the wounded Sergeant he
was trying to save. We
learn from Billy's constant flashbacks that Shroom was the
philosophical type, who would talk about karma, and even
predestination. He told
Billy that if you're supposed to die, then the bullet with your name
on it has already been fired.
Now that Billy is Stateside again, he's glad to be out of the
war zone, in a way, but in another way, he finds himself strangely
uncomfortable with civilian life.
Going home feels weird, and not just because his sister Kathryn
(Kristen Stewart) keeps pressuring him to quit.
She's voicing the political opposition at the dinner table, but
their Mother won't hear it. The
Dad is emotionally detached from everyone, and one of the reasons
Billy enlisted in the first place was to help pay the medical expenses
for Kathryn, who's had to face multiple surgeries after a bad car
Really, Billy feels more comfortable with the guys in his unit
than he does with his own family.
They have this kind of macho bravura going, that's based on the
reality of shared experience. They've
been in combat together, and they've got each other's backs in a
literal way, so they're not afraid to make fun of each other, or
banter about girls, or even return some sarcasm to civilians, because
their bond is strong. Their
devotion to their remaining leader, Sergeant Dime (Garrett Hedlund),
is unquestioned. And Dime,
in turn, has singled out Spc. Lynn as someone who “gets it” in
deployment, a valuable member of the team, which makes Billy wonder to
himself if he really is cut out to be a soldier.
He doesn't think of himself as a “warrior,” one of those
violence-loving hombres, but then, he also knows that he'd do anything
to protect his fellow squad members.
If it came to that.
Billy's unit is supposed to be part of the halftime spectacle
at a Cowboys game, but all the explosions and glitz and loud noises
aren't exactly soothing to these guys suffering from PTSD.
While Destiny's Child is giving their concert, the soldiers are
supposed to stand at attention, not moving, while dancers writhe all
around them, all in the name of “paying tribute” to them.
One of the cheerleaders, Faison (Makenzie Leigh) seems to take
a shine to Billy, but somehow her attentions seem just part of the
fabric of unreality surrounding this whole “hero tour.”
We learn through Billy's flashbacks that there's nothing
glamorous about being a soldier in a war zone, but his loyalty to his
unit drives him to consider redeployment, despite his sister's
Yes, there's a lot of tension to go around here, including some
unscheduled conflict with overzealous security guards, and even some
gutsy pushback with a couple of arrogant civilian self-promoters.
The tension is just under the surface, everywhere they go, and
for now, for Spc. Billy Lynn, that's just part of being who he's now