Director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) almost made a documentary about soldiers returning from Iraq and their struggles to reintegrate into society, but decided to make the fictional Stop-Loss instead. The film focuses on one staff sergeant, Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) and his men who, after a rough tour in Iraq, return home to families, girlfriends and wives. Brandon returns to his small Texas town alongside longtime buddy Steve (Channing Tatum). When Brandon, who seems the most well-adjusted of the bunch, learns he’s been “stop-lossed” and is scheduled to ship back to Iraq, he goes AWOL instead, thinking he can somehow get out of it. Steve’s fiancée Michele (Abbie Cornish) offers him a ride to D.C. to see a senator, and to Canada, if it comes to that. In the end, Brandon must choose between staying AWOL and giving up everything he knows and returning to the Army, which he feels is wrongfully calling him back. It’s a big decision for a young man—and yet 81,000 U.S. soldiers have been stop-lossed in this war, so he’s clearly not alone.