Movie Review – Tigerland
Starring: Colin Farrell, Matthew Davis, Shea Whigham
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
What can I really say about this film? It’s all been done before. Sure it has, but then again, most war films have, but do turn out to be pretty good. Why? Well, look at it this way, they all touch a nerve in our not too distant past; wars and conflicts that our great grandfathers, grandfathers, dads and moms, and even brothers and sisters may have been a part of. America is, whether people want to believe it or not, a country shaped around war, it’s ingrained in our very make-up, and it is what has built our country into what it is today. We have a slew of WWII films, that portray a distant past to the younger generation, of a time that was in black and white, with good looking actors who played heroic soldiers on some distant battlefield. It almost seems like it all WAS only just a movie sometimes.
But those of you with parents over 50 may have heard the real stories from the real people that were really there. For them, it wasn’t black and white, it was full color, things were not simpler or more innocent, and our grandfathers probably saw one of the bloodiest wars ever to ravage history, all when they were our age now. Vietnam was a war closer to us perhaps, for our very fathers and mothers were involved. So our glimpses of war becomes a little more in focus. We no longer see these good looking actors of the silver screen anymore, but replaced instead by young men who had long hair, listen to rock n’ roll, and a indulge in a slew of everything else that was taboo a generation before. We have films like Full Metal Jacket, The Deer Hunter, Platoon, Apocalypse Now, and Born on The 4th of July that attempt to explain to us the plethora of experiences had by those who were there. Some films explore boot camp, others look at the war in it’s thickest moments, and yet others look at the effects in post war America. They all do a fine job, and none is really “better” than the other, for different stories require different approaches. For all that it’s worth, let’s hope that these and the many other excellent war films out there teach us something about history, humanity, and ourselves, and that maybe someday there will be a better way.
Tigerland looks at a group of men in Army advanced infantry training, a rigid course set to prepare them for their eventual departure to Vietnam. The main character is Private Boz, played by Colin Farrell, an insubordinate troublemaker who manages to piss off just about every senior officer he comes into contact with. The other men in his unit share pretty much the same sentiment. Early on we see that he does, however, possess a unique and strong willed attitude. Coupled with his natural leadership abilities, Boz makes for one interesting and maybe even promising character. The movie follows Boz through his training, and his friendships and hardships with the other men of his unit. Great acting throughout and a strong dialogue make this film a notch above cheesy, yet some lines could have been doctored up a bit, perhaps to avoid cliché.
The film culminates in the units’ participation in a course called “Tigerland,” a veritable jungle obstacle course designed to simulate the closest feel of Vietnam, in a stateside training course. Betrayals, friendships, and basic human emotion are all put to the test in the film’s surprising climax, and reminds us all that we are all human, capable of great things, and horrible atrocities. Tigerland is a film that most war film buffs will immediately take to heart, as will drama and action fans. I’ve heard some people say they were not too impressed, and I can see that. Maybe it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, perhaps some have simply seen enough. All I can really say is that Tigerland is not bad, not great, but satisfying, and in the end leaves a message of sorts that most movies sometimes miss.
3 out of 5