Lions for Lambs preaches one thing, does another
For a film that preaches getting off your butt and doing something rather than merely talking about what’s wrong in the world, Lions for Lambs sure does a lot of talking. There’s so much talking, in fact, that almost two-thirds of the movie is dedicated to office shots.
There are three main settings in the film: The office of Sen. Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise), the office of political science professor Stephen Malley (Robert Redford), and the mountains of Afghanistan. With the exception of a few deviations—reporter Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) leaving Irving’s office to go to her own; Malley flashing back to times in his classroom; and military headquarters—the film does not wander much from its three main locales. This does not a thriller make.
Two Army soldiers (Michael Peña and Derek Luke) stationed in Afghanistan are stranded when military tactics take them to high ground. This is where the only action in the movie takes place. Will they survive the cold? Will they be attacked by Afghans? Or will they be saved in time?
Back in the States, however, people sit in offices and talk. In Washington, Irving tries to sell Roth, who he believes has gone soft as a journalist, on these new tactics, which he had a hand in. Across the country, professor Malley lectures a young promising student on making the most of his gifts—of doing something to make a change.
The three storylines are thinly and not wholly believably linked together, but in the end a decision must be made in each: Will they do something to possibly better the world, or will they sit back and watch it go by?
Unfortunately the answers are less than satisfying, and the film ends up coming across as just plain preachy.