Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) is 19, and brought home for his unit’s victory tour after a grueling battle in Iraq. The tours last stop takes him to the half time show of a Thanksgiving day football game.
Ang Lee directs another visual masterpiece here. His films, if nothing else are stunning to look at. Billy Lynn is no different. When we are going back and forth between the halftime show and a battle in Iraq, both are equally breathtaking. The performance he gets from newcomer Joe Alwyn is the true feat.
The emotion that Alwyn can convey in such a subtle way is what makes this movie so powerful. He wears the inner struggle of war on his face in every scene. For a first time actor, he brings the weight to this film. I was awe inspired by his performance. Ang Lee really is a mastermind director for getting such a performance from a first timer.
Most of the supporting cast is solid. Garret Hedlund has his best performance in awhile here. He plays that straight, strict, sergeant role really well. Hedlund brings just enough emotion to his role, to make it three dimensional. Steve Martin plays the owner of the team that hosts the half time show. He’s doing his best Jerry Jones impression, and his performance really works in that sense. The money hungry, businessman type is really all he is. It was good to see Chris Tucker back, in more of less a Hollywood agent role. Anyone could’ve played his character, but it was a joy to see him nonetheless. Vin Diesel was powerful in the few scenes that he was actually in, you can tell that Bravo (units name) really respects him. Diesel always plays the leader really well. Kirsten Stewart plays Billy’s sister, and she was really the other standout here. You see the love for her brother, and the need for him to stay with her at home. You buy that relationship, even after months away they fall right back into that loving of two siblings.
Ang Lee captures the PTSD of a solider in the film, at some turns he really makes some silly narrative decisions. There’s a whole subplot of the unit versus the security team at the stadium. That part didn’t fit at all with the story, and it wasn’t needed. Lee does a great job with everything else, making Billy Lynn worth seeing.