After a seven-year break, Robert Redford returns to the camera with a simple directorial style

By Jack Rico / ShowBizCafe
November 08, 2007 06:00 PM

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Cast: Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Michael Peña

Script: Matthew Michael Carnahan

Director: Robert Redford

Rated: R, for military violence and strong language

Grade: B

The new film from Oscar-winner Robert Redford deals with two subjects that have been a recurrent motif throughout his career: war and politics.

Lions for Lambs is a thoughtful story on the power of knowledge, truth-telling and social responsibility, tackling three storylines that unfold in real time during a single day.

The first plot involves Streep’s character, an aging journalist who’s called upon by a young Kennedyesque presidential hopeful (Cruise) to write what will be the categorical resolution to the war in the Middle East.

The second story line deals with an idealistic professor (Redford), who summons a privileged yet blasé student (Andrew Garfield) in an attempt to put his potential to good use.

The final sub-plot revolves around two young men in Iraq (Peña and Derek Luke), who must to maintain their patriotic faith that led them there and deal with the consequences of war.

Dialogue is without a doubt the driving force of the film. Relatively unknown scriptwriter Carnahan shows a great deal of wit via the pulsating back-and-forth conversations between Streep and Cruise. As for Redford, his directorial style is unpretentious and pragmatic. The refreshing one-on-one dynamics of the sequences allow the players to get back to acting fundamentals.

Still, Lions for Lambs – a quote Redford’s character attributes to a military general in the film – does little to convince the Academy that this is one of the best pictures of the season.

It’s worth mentioning, though, the good showing of young Mexican-American actor Peña, whose latest projects have demonstrated his promise in the film industry.