I'm generally not a very big fan of patriotic-themed films. This is because that type of film generally abandons substance for the sake of garnering sympathy through patriotism. I don't think that is the case in this film. Instead of glorifying the soldiers as saints, they portray them as human. Yes, they are heroes for bravely serving our country, and the film does show that, but it also shows that they make mistakes. I have read criticisms stating that they didn't like how the soldiers were shown to do some things that would go against their public image, and I disagree. It doesn't make them into unlikable characters, but rather, it makes them feel like real people, offering a perspective unique to this type of film.
Another trend of criticism that I have heard is that the narrative was weak and sloppily put together. I will admit, there were some melodramatic moments, but there were also some amazingly-written emotional scenes. A lot of the interactions between Lynn and his sister (played by Kristen Stewart) are great. The film also has a lot to say about how Americans look at the military with a double-standard. It posed some interesting questions about that, and only felt a little cheesy in one brief moment. Questions are also posed regarding honor and the morality of war. I thought that the story was interesting and offered good character development, and I thought that the method in which the flashbacks were integrated was an effective way of telling it.
The acting in the film was very good, in my opinion. Joe Alwyn, who plays the protagonist, made his feature debut in this film and gave an excellent performance. His emotion was very believable, and to me, it didn't feel like he was uncomfortable as many actors are during their first film. Garrett Hedlund is great as the leader of the squad, showing a diverse range of emotions throughout the course of the film. Kristen Stewart and Vin Diesel also give very good supporting performances, adding a surprising amount of emotion when they are on-screen. Chris Tucker and Steve Martin didn't have much screen time, but what time they had was good, although not great. I thought that the cinematography of the film was very good. There were some interesting shots to show emotion, and the few battle scenes were extremely well-done.
So overall, I really liked "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk". It isn't Best Picture material, but it was a pretty well-made film. I wish that I could have seen it in 120fps, but I still really enjoyed it and I think that the critics were too harsh on it.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Big Tuna's Rating: A-
How Did I Watch It?: In theaters.
Had I Seen It Before?: No.
Would I Watch It Again?: Yes.