Pitt-fall casts a shadow over bold move

Sunday Tasmanian - - News -

David Mi­chod ( An­i­mal King­dom)

Brad Pitt, To­pher Grace, An­thony Michael Hall, An­thony Hayes, Tilda Swin­ton, Ben Kings­ley. VIDEO-STREAM­ING gi­ant Net­flix has big plans to change the way peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence pres­tige, first-run cin­ema.

With the ma­jor Hol­ly­wood stu­dios now seem­ingly ad­dicted to comic books, su­per­heroes, se­quels and re­makes, Net­flix wants to be the go-to des­ti­na­tion for in­no­va­tive and orig­i­nal movie story-telling.

What’s more, Net­flix is putting its money where its mouth is, pay­ing Brad Pitt and his pro­duc­tion com­pany a whop­ping $80 mil­lion for an edgy mil­i­tary satire set at the height of Amer­ica’s abortive war on ter­ror.

While War Ma­chine is un­doubt­edly a good film — some­times even great on brief oc­ca­sions — it won’t be spark- ing the kind of world­wide sen­sa­tion that Net­flix might be hop­ing for.

Re­mark­ably, the chief fac­tor hob­bling its chances of wide­spread suc­cess is the main at­trac­tion him­self. In fill­ing out the central role of War Ma­chine — a rough, tough and gruff US general on a col­li­sion course with then-Pres­i­dent Barack Obama — Pitt makes a flam­boy­antly odd set of choices that make his per­for­mance a de­cid­edly ac­quired taste.

The way that the ac­tor walks, talks and shapes his body is in­tended to be the stuff of broad car­i­ca­ture, but it comes off as a weird in-joke.

The dis­trac­tion of Pitt even­tu­ally sub­sides as War Ma­chine digs deeper into a gen­uinely in­ter­est­ing story.

The year is 2009, and the leg­endary five-star fire­brand General Glen “The Glen­i­mal’’ McMa­hon (Pitt) has just started run­ning the US show in Afghanistan.

Obama’s White House wants out of the con­flict al­to­gether. McMa­hon thinks Amer­ica should stick around and show the world that Un­cle Sam can still fix a bro­ken na­tion.

As this film is a thinly veiled re­cap of a dust-up that ac­tu­ally tran­spired be­tween Obama and no­to­ri­ous mil­i­tary mav­er­ick General Stan­ley McChrys­tal, it is al­ready well-known this clash of ide­olo­gies will not end well.

How­ever, War Ma­chine finds real strength and pur­pose once it is ob­vi­ous The Glen­i­mal’s fate is sealed. Had a lit­tle of the same ur­gency been de­tected ear­lier in the pic­ture, it might have been some­thing truly spe­cial.

Nev­er­the­less, War Ma­chine is still worth a look if you’re feel­ing both ad­ven­tur­ous and pa­tient.

BARMY ARMY: Brad Pitt in a scene from War Ma­chine.

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