By Gerald Aaron, April 28, 2008

(15) Co-writer/director Kimberley Peirce’s drama follows decorated US sergeant Brandon King’s (Ryan Phillippe) return to small-town Texas home after combat service in Iraq. King looks forward to returning to civilian life, only to be trapped by the US Army’s stop-loss policy which allows the US government to continue to call soldiers back for further tours of duty. King justifiably reacts adversely against recall, bringing him into conflict with his authority-accepting friend, Steve (Channing Tatum). Pierce, in her first film since Boys Don’t Cry, again creates thought-provoking drama, believable characters and makes powerful points about the conflict between self and duty. Her staging of warfare in Iraq and her portrait of small-town Texas are gritty and convincing, as are the leading performances, notably Philippe, Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a returning soldier ultimately destroyed by his combat experience.

Last updated: 2:59pm, February 18 2011