Flags of our Fathers
Flags of Our Fathers
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach, Jesse Bradford and Paul Walker
3 out of 5 stars
‘Flags of Our Fathers’ has a larger-than-life scale and the typical WWII epic feel, but most of the film’s actors either couldn’t handle their roles or were not given enough opportunities.
Based on the book of the same name by James Bradley and Ron Powers, ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ follows the post-war lives of the three surviving soldiers who raised the American flag in the historic photo at Iwo Jima. Throughout the film, we see how a seemingly insignificant event is transformed into a heroic message of hope and then twisted by politicians into a money-making scheme.
Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach and Jesse Bradford play the men at the center of this media circus who knew they did nothing special that day at Iwo-Jima-and are aware of the fact there is a much less heroic story behind the photo.
Of the three stars of ‘Flags,’ only Phillippe, who plays the level-headed but guilt-ridden medic John ‘Doc’ Bradley, has the acting chops to pull off a notable performance. Bradford’s character, Rene Gagnon, showed promise as the only one of the three soldiers who embraced his new-found celebrity. However, Bradford, who has a reputation for being the standard teen heartthrob actor, doesn’t have the range to pull off the role. If he did, he certainly wasn’t given the opportunity.
Finally, there’s Adam Beach’s portrayal of American Indian soldier Ira ‘Chief’ Hayes. Hayes was the emotional center of the film, haunted by the memories of his fallen comrades and driven to alcoholism. He struggles far more with what happened on that island than Bradley or Gagnon, but unfortunately Beach can’t handle the role. In the emotional climax of the film, Beach has to deliver a character-defining monologue, a task at which he fails. You can see the effort he puts forth, and although he comes close to nailing it, just falls short.
In spite of those shortcomings, ‘Flags’ manages to convey a feeling of cinematic grandeur. Kudos to the special effects team and cinematographers who manage to put together some incredible imagery on par with the best war movies.
Don’t walk into the theater with your expectations too high, though. Despite behind-the-scenes heavyweights like director/producer Clint Eastwood, co-writer Paul Haggis and producer Steven Spielberg, ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ is no ‘Saving Private Ryan.’
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