Ang Lee has always been one of the greatest directors to ever work in Hollywood. I mean he has won three Oscars in his career. He compelled us with the amazing craftsmanship of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the forbidden romance of Brokeback Mountain, and the spiritual adventure between a boy and a tiger in Life of Pi. But with his latest film, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, this doesn’t show that he didn’t really put the skills he’s known for with this misstep drama.
The story revolves around nineteen-year-old private Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) returning home with his soldiers. He’s renounced as a hero after a battle in Iraq and they are brought back for a victory tour. During the Thanksgiving Day football game, through flashbacks, it’s to be showed what’s to be revealed about what really happened over there.
This was a movie that I was a little anticipating because it’s directed by Lee and the story did seem interesting from the trailer. But instead, it’s handled on nothing to compensate with.
The performances weren’t too bad, to be honest. First off, Joe Alwyn as the title character pulled in a believable breakthrough performance in this. This was his first big movie and it’s clear that he has some emotional strive with this character. He’s someone to look out for in the future. Garrett Hedlund did provide some good scenes as the sergeant. Kristen Stewart as his sister was hit-or-miss sometimes but still a capable performance for what’s she was given. And Steve Martin was either underused or miscast in my opinion.
The main problem with this is put upon Lee’s direction and its screenplay. Like said before, Lee’s a great director. But it seemed like his style went a little overboard with some of the scenes that were filmed. There were times where I forgot that Lee’s directing this. I was expecting a lot more scenes when he was in the war with the action being handled. That’s just for about one scene really. And like his other films, there was something that really emotional, there’s nothing here that’s a tear-jerking moment. Not just that, the way that some scenes were transitioning with the editing were choppy and almost cheap. For example, while during the national anthem, Billy thinks about having sex with this cheerleader he likes. Like it was so odd, to say the least. It became distracting whenever it happens.
On the screenplay side, this was based on the satirical war novel of the name by Ben Fountain and it’s adapted by Jean-Christophe Castelli. There was no clear focus on what should be happening. In some aspect, they could’ve explored a little bit of the PTSD. And it’s just that some of the dialogue that the characters say was terrible. Plus, the love interest to Lynn felt really forced as if we’re trying to care about the two of them.
Now I didn’t see this in 3D and the 4K resolution/ 120 or 24 fps but I’m glad I didn’t because it would’ve bothered me so much. Plus, while watching this, why did this need to be in 3D?
Sadly, this movie ends up in the category of “Oscar Bait”. In which it seemed like a promising film that looks like it could end up being an Oscar contender but fails to be achievable at any point in the film’s runtime. By which it means it will get zero nominations.
Overall, this was really disappointing coming from a talented director. But this didn’t convey any point of actually caring about what’s happening, it felt serious sometimes, and this felt tiring and forgettable after it ends. And how dare they disgrace Destiny’s Child?!
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk wasn’t interesting or strong enough to be compelling in one of Lee’s weakest in his filmography.