Review: War Machine (2017)

War Machine is a solid, if not great movie. I enjoyed it, and actually got a few laughs out of it. As someone who is often a little grumpy, a few genuine laughs out of me is a significant achievement. But other movies have captured the insanity and absurdity of war much more effectively. War Machine will likely not be remembered years from now.

The movie is uneven; the middle part of the movie detailing “McMahon’s” trip to Europe should have been cut entirely. Even though it is a defining part of Michael Hastings’s own reporting (Hastings has admitted that his unprecedented access to  McChrystal was due to the general and his team being stranded in Paris because of a freak volcanic eruption), the European trip seems to slow down the film. And more scenes should have detailed how McChrystal’s strategy failed miserably. There is precious little screen time given to the disastrous operation “McMahon” spends planning.

Also it is stunning how empty War Machine’s characters are. The (long) introduction to them is practically the only characterization that appears throughout the entire film. War Machine cannot really answer why these men act so indiscreetly and flagrantly in front of a reporter with a recorder, in part because the movie never seriously asks the question. The narrator concludes that it’s “hubris” and that is that.

 

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