Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: Movie Review

Updated on November 24, 2016
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

Source

Barely a month ago Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk was a shoo-in for a Best Picture nod and widely considered one of the favorites to win. But that was based solely on potential. Ang Lee directing a film based on an inventive and engrossing novel about a soldier contemplating the complexities of war? How could it not be great?

Now we know.

Much has been made of how Lee shot the film at 120 frames per second in 3D at 4K HD resolution (though only a handful of theaters in Los Angeles and New York could handle it). Apparently, though, all the time and effort he put into technology left him precious little time to make a movie worthy of it. Compare it to buying a new car that has automated parking, built-in wifi, and voice controls, but no engine. That makes for a worthless car.

Set in 2004, Billy Lynn stars newcomer Joe Alwyn as the titular fresh-faced soldier. He’s joining his platoon on a hero’s tour of America, and their latest stop is a featured placement in the halftime show at the big Thanksgiving football game in Dallas. A week earlier, the soldiers gained fame after a cell phone video caught their heroics in an Iraq firefight.

While the guys are being shuffled around the stadium and prepped for their moment in the spotlight, a Hollywood agent (Chris Tucker) is trying to sell their story to the highest bidder, and gaggles of fans are eager to show their appreciation. All the while, Billy is flashing back to Iraq and questioning his role in the war. Further complicating things is both his sister (Kristen Stewart), who is desperate for him to stay home, and Dallas cheerleader Faison (Makenzie Leigh), with whom Billy forms an instant connection after meeting during pre-game festivities.

While the novel by Ben Fountain is one of the more interesting and clever books of recent years, it’s clear that novice screenwriter Jean-Christophe Castelli was in over his head from the get-go. The film alternates between sluggish and disjointed, never really finding a voice, much less anything resembling a coherent story. Inherent in adapting a novel is the fact that large chunks of material get left out, but when the source material is as driven by internal monologue as Billy Lynn is, it makes you wonder if the movie should have even been greenlit in the first place.

Further making the case is horribly wooden acting by much of the cast, including Stewart, Garrett Hedlund as Billy’s sergeant, and Steve Martin, who is hideously miscast as the Dallas team owner.

For his part, Lee just can’t seem to get out of his own way, unlike in previous triumphs like Life of Pi and Brokeback Mountain. It’s as if this project is all about him, as he unsuccessfully employs techniques like having the actors stare directly into the camera, but since there’s no rhyme or reason to it, it just feels like a pointless gimmick.

Maybe any one of the above transgressions could have been overlooked, had it been the film’s only fault, but added up, they make Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk a clear misfire. Not only won’t it hear itself mentioned come Oscar time, it may, in fact go down as this year’s biggest disappointment.

Rating

2/5 stars

'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' trailer

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)