Release Date: October 20th, 2006 by Paramount Pictures.
The Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach, John Benjamin Hickey, John Slattery, Barry Pepper, Jamie Bell, Paul Walker, Robert Patrick, Neal McDonough, Benjamin Walker, Melanie Lynskey, George Grizzard.
Directed by Clint Eastwood.
BASIC PREMISE: During a promotional tour, 3 U.S. soldiers recall how they raised the American flag to signify the defeat of the Japanese in the Battle of Iwo Jima.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Flags of Our Fathers has engaging and intense battles scenes, but when it loses its momentum when the plot shifts both to the present day and to the 3 soldiers’ promotional tour. At the Battle of Iwo Jima, 6 soldiers posed for a photo while raising an American flag: John Bradley (Phillippe), Rene Gagnon (Bradford), Mike Strank (Pepper), Ira Hayes (Beach), and Harlan Block (Benjamin Walker). After the victory, 3 of those surviving soldiers—John, Rene and Ira— go on a promotional tour during which the photo draws a lot of attention to their heroism. In the present day, Bradley’s son (Grizzard) investigates the truth behind the photo for his book. The investigation itself feels compelling and provocative given that the photo itself doesn’t show any of the soldiers’ faces and misrepresented them as heroes, which they didn’t want to be considered. The acting is merely mediocre without any stand-out performances. Unfortunately, dramatic scenes lack that engrossing feeling because there’s simply not enough character development in the unfocused screenplay by co-writers William Broyles Jr. and Paul Haggis. The soldiers seem dull and one-dimensional. On a positive note, director Clint Eastwood does a masterful job behind the camera with beautifully-filmed battle sequences that make you feel like you’re actually there. At a running time of only 2 hours and 12 minutes, Flags of Our Fathers occasionally drags yet doesn’t overstay its welcome. Stay through the end credits for photos of the real soldiers and an additional black-and-white scene after credits.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: The battle scenes feel moving and heartbreaking. From their experiences, the soldiers learned the horrors of war and the difficulty of feeling like a true hero.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Slightly unfocused plot and not enough character development.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 2
IN A NUTSHELL: Engrossing and intense battle scenes, but an unfocused narrative and not enough character development.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)
The "F" Menu