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The North Wind

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The North Wind

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Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
News Editor

I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Political “Lambs” has shortcomings

Because it’s the topic that dominates headlines, it’s not surprising that filmmakers choose to focus on America’s foreign policy. But just because everybody is talking about it – especially with an election around the corner – doesn’t mean we need a new film with a new viewpoint every single week. A majority of this year’s films about the Middle East and American policy have been boring and borderline propaganda.

Actor and director Robert Redford (“Ordinary People”) has decided that he too needs to throw his opinion out there with his latest effort, “Lions for Lambs.” The film ends up being a great discussion on the current state of affairs, but it lacks impact and feels more like a debate than a fleshed-out story.

“Lambs” tells three concurrent, intertwined stories. The first is of journalist Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) who is interviewing popular and powerful Senator Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise). He gives her the inside scoop on a new strategy he hopes will win the war in Afghanistan. The second is a meeting between Professor Stephen Malley (Robert Redford) and student Todd Hayes (Andrew Garfield). Malley tries to convince Hayes, who has been skipping his class, that he is very smart and privileged and should do something with his talent. The third story, which ties everything together, is that of soldiers Ernest Rodriguez (Michael Pena) and Arian Finch (Derek Luke), former students of Malley’s. After being inspired by their professor, they decide to join the Army to make a difference. The two happen to be a part of the new strategy that Senator Irving is implementing. However, things don’t go according to plan, and they get stranded in enemy territory, struggling to survive.

There are two things that “Lambs” does well, and that’s pacing and dialogue. Because of the three different stories running side by side, “Lambs” never drags. Each story is given appropriate time to develop. From start to finish, “Lambs” flows flawlessly.

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Complementing this is a fantastic script. “Lambs” offers fast, engaging discussion on everything from the ethics of journalism to the morals of political science. Tough questions are raised leaving no clear answers. This element is highlighted mostly in the conversations between Roth and Irving and Malley and Hayes. Their dialogue is quick and witty, presenting many solid points without ever sounding too direct or forced. Without debating both sides of the issues, this film could have easily turned into a piece of propaganda.

But that’s where the good aspects end. “Lambs,” with a surprising lack of human emotion, leaves almost no impact on the viewer. Thus, all debates fall flat. Redford had plenty of moments where he could have played up this aspect, specifically with the soldiers in Afghanistan. But he never once tries to engage the viewer’s emotions. Unfortunately, many will see this film and forget it not long after.

Part of what makes “Lambs” feel flat are the standard characters. There is nothing unique about most of them. Malley is the typical professor who did nothing with his life and tries to inspire younger generations to make something out of theirs. Roth is Hollywood’s stereotypical journalist, working for a corporation yet dreaming of reporting the truth. The only interesting character is Irving. Say what you will about Cruise, but he’s dedicated and knows how to bring the most out in his characters.

“Lambs” is a great debate on the issues America is facing today. However, it’s just that — a debate. You can see this any night of the week on MSNBC. There’s nothing that makes “Lambs” feel like a movie, just a well thought-out discussion that will give you something to momentarily think about as you walk from the theater to your car.

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