What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this serious drama deals with difficult issues faced by veterans of the Iraq war, including post-traumatic stress disorder, phantom pain, alcoholism, and lack of stateside resources. War violence -- including shooting and explosions (mortars, grenades, rockets, and disguised bombs) -- results in bloody injuries, deaths, and upset survivors. At home, characters suffer from flashbacks, nightmares, emotional disturbances, and physical disabilities. Family members argue, and characters swear frequently, smoke cigarettes, drink, and take/discuss prescription drugs.
What's the story?
Timely and moving but frustratingly contrived, HOME OF THE BRAVE is like The Best Years of Our Lives for the Iraq war, tackling the difficult issues faced by returning veterans. Once the unit goes home, the clichés come fast and furiously, competing with images viewers will likely recognize from the news.
Jamal's situation is the most painfully stereotypical. Rejected by his girlfriend and frustrated by the repetitive complaints he hears in group therapy, Jamal tries to reassert his manhood. Since the film leaves Jamal high and dry (his fellow vets get family and friends), he appears angry and alone, stalking his ex or shifting unhappily in his chair at the Veterans' Administration. He's a peculiar figure, part fantastic and part fearsome -- a gangster trained and used up by the military, then left without any recourse.
Is it any good?
Opening in Iraq -- where a group of National Guardsmen from Spokane, Wash., is looking forward to going home in two weeks after extended tours HOME OF THE BRAVE shows the effects of combat and loss on strong young men and women, as well as the toll on their families. When their unit is ambushed, Jamal (50 Cent) and his best friend, Jordan (Chad Michael Murray), take off after their attackers and meet with terrible consequences. Convoy driver Vanessa (Jessica Biel) loses her hand, and medic Will Marsh (Samuel L. Jackson) feels angry and helpless in the face of senseless carnage. Back home, Jamal is haunted by his own act of violence, Tommy (Brian Presley) by the death of a best friend, and others by guilt, flashbacks, and resentment at the military's lack of understanding and care. Will's family life suffers and he starts drinking, and single mom Vanessa struggles to take care of herself and her son.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the media's coverage of the war in Iraq. How does the movie's treatment of the issues compare to what you see on television? Do you think one version is more accurate and/or objective than the other? Why and how? How is the media's coverage of the Iraq war different from -- and similar to -- coverage of other wars and conflicts? Families can also discuss how war affects veterans and their families. What issues do the veterans in this movie grapple with once they come home? How do their families struggle to support them? How are these challenges different for men and women, for parents and children?