Blu-ray Stop-Loss [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray 16930714),
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Director Kimberly Peirce (BOYS DON'T CRY) tackles another controversial topic with STOP-LOSS, the story of a U.S. soldier forced back into battle. Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) has just returned to Texas after a harrowing final tour in Iraq. He's accompanied by the remaining men from his unit, all of whom are more than a little shell-shocked. Welcomed home as a hero, Brandon is awarded a Purple Heart by a visiting state senator. But the homecoming quickly turns sour, as each of the soldiers struggles to assimilate back into society. Tommy (Joseph Gordon Levitt) can't lay off the booze, and Steve (Channing Tatum) roughs up his fiance. Brandon is eager to put the war behind him, but that dream quickly fizzles when he learns that he has been "stop-lossed," or ordered back for another, involuntary tour of duty. Stunned by the news, he goes AWOL and forms a plan to get help from the senator who so recently honored him. He hits the road for D.C., all the while trying to cope with PTSD and battle flashbacks. Torn between his fierce patriotism and what he believes to be outright betrayal by the U.S. Army, he doesn't know where to turn or what to do. He is ultimately faced with the harshest of choices: Iraq, or a life in exile.
There are now dozens of films that grapple with the war in Iraq, but STOP-LOSS is unique in its attempt to reach out to a younger audience. Produced by MTV, the film features a striking young cast and a thumping hip-hop soundtrack. There are many commendable performances, most notably from Phillippe and Levitt. Despite the occasional melodrama of some of the scenes, Peirce pulls no punches, and really hammers home the tragic exploitation of American troops.
Ryan Phillippe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Victor Rasuk, Abbie Cornish, Timothy Olyphant, Rob Brown, Ciaran Hinds, Channing Tatum
"STOP-LOSS features strong performances by Ryan Phillippe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Victor Rasuk."
3 stars out of 5 -- "[A] thoughtful, low-key military drama....An Iraq movie that isn't actually a war movie, more of a state-of-the-nation snapshot."
"[I]ntellectually interesting....The film is distinctive and worth watching because unusually it presents King's decision not to return to the war sympathetically -- that is, as an act requiring genuine courage."
Sight and Sound
"STOP-LOSS has a formidable performance at its center in Phillippe's portrait of squad leader Staff Sgt. Brandon King....Phillippe has been finding himself with characters who display an edge..."
Los Angeles Times
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "The emotional battlefield on which Peirce paints her canvas strikes a universal chord that transcends politics and preaching....[A] raw, riveting movie..."
"Peirce's intention in cataloguing even a handful of the war's staggering home-turf losses is heartfelt."
3 stars out of 5 -- "Phillippe's at his best in the lead role, giving depth and humanity to a characters who could have been a mere cipher....He gets excellent support from Channing Tatum, who never strays into stereotype..."
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