You know a historical movie is good when you rush out to research actual history after watching it. That’s what happened after I watched this comedic fictional version of events based on General Stanley McChrystal’s stint running the war in Afghanistan (2009-2010). I was captivated by the personalities involved and the complexities of our military operations there. It’s easy to say, “We should have pulled out all our troops,” but when you watch the general’s impassioned reasoning, you start to root for him and you hope he’ll be provided with the additional 40,000 troops he requested, if for nothing else, just to see how much more the conflict gets bungled.
We see very little fighting though. Without giving away the ending, let’s just say that politics in war is the same as politics everywhere-complicated and full of diplomatic landmines. But while this is no “Full Metal Jacket” or “Saving Private Ryan”, it was fun to see Brad Pitt portray a swaggering, arms-out-to-the-side rigid general. It was also a laugh and a half to watch Michael Hall, best known from Dexter, playing Michael Flynn’s character. Yes, that Michael Flynn. The interesting part is that the movie was filmed before Flynn became infamous for botching his role as director of the NSA (why on Earth was he ever appointed-he was a paid lobbyist for Turkey. But I digress). But Hall was still able to successfully adopt Flynn’s over-the-top angry and constantly incensed persona.
At any rate, I walked away from this movie curious about the story’s historical significance, and I ended up researching McChrystal’s real story (spoiler alert-the movie was fairly accurate). I also felt compelled to research the history of the conflict in Afghanistan (spoiler alert-our military is still playing the same war games, using the same reasoning). I guess we never really learn, we just switch out players.