War Machine. Brad Pitt’s latest, not Girls Aloud getting militant.
Streaming giant Netflix spent a reported $60 million on acquiring David Michôd’s
War Machine, a satirical stab at the war in Afghanistan loosely adapted from Michael Hastings’ book The Operators, an account of his month embedded with US Army General Stanley McChrystal for a Rolling Stone profile. On this evidence, it was money well spent.
Here, the names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. Brad Pitt plays General Glen McMahon, “the Glenimal” as he’s nicknamed, deployed to oversee the latest round of counterinsurgency. In other words “nationbuilding”: winning the hearts of the locals and cleaning up a messy war.
McMahon makes it his mission to root out insurgents in the dangerous Helmand Province, but hubris gets the better of him and his men (“We’re the US military,” one yells, “we practically invented everything!”). Sharply scripted by Michôd ( Animal Kingdom), it strikes a delicate balance between jet-black humour (the US sanctioning opium growth to boost the local economy) and the horrors of war.
Like a companion to David O. Russell’s Three Kings, it’s stocked with great support: Scoot McNairy as the Rolling Stone reporter; Topher Grace as an oily army PR; Ben Kingsley as the Afghan president. Only a Teutonicsounding Tilda Swinton as a German newshound feels like showboating. But Pitt sizzles in the lead, making this salute-worthy stuff. James Mottram
man on a mission Brad Pitt suits up as General Glen McMahon in David Michôd’s satirical drama.