Release year: 2008
Starring: Ryan Phillipe, Abbie Cornish, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Channing Tatum
Directed by Kimberly Peirce
Written by Kimberly Peirce & Mark Richard
RT: 65% (131 reviews), IMDB: 6.5 (3275 votes), Metacritic: 61 (35 reviews)

Stop-loss policy is described ala mobster language: “When I thought I was out, they pulled me back in”. This movie told the story of several young soldiers that went back from Iraq and the implications of the war to them. Somehow, none of them could actually shake off the shadows of their moments in Iraq.

SSG Brandon L. King was stop-lossed by the military and throughout the movie, it told how he dealt with the issue, how it affected his family, how he went AWOL and how he finally resolved the matter. Like a lot of other soldiers who came back from war, he was also haunted by an incident involving his unit and how he then realized that instead of fighting for protecting USA, the government was actually waging for a different reason. Essentially, King represented soldiers who got fed up by war and felt guilty for whatever happened to them and their fellow soldiers, as well as whatever they’ve done during the service.

Michelle and King’s family represented the society which grew tired of the war and questioned what good would come from the war.

Pfc. Tommy Burgess was a kind of soldier who failed to return to “normal” life. Frustration led him to drinking and eventually being booted out of the military. For someone with other talents, being booted out from the military would not affect much, but for soldiers like Tommy who thought that being a soldier was the only thing that he could do best would definitely destroy his morale. Feeling helpless, the drinking got worse and what would be worse than drinking?

Sgt. Steve Shriver was also another casualty of war. I wasn’t sure whether he was also stop-lossed, but he promised his superior that he would re-enlist as a sniper to “bail out” King, who got so deep in the trouble. Unfortunately, in the end Michelle left him after she thought that Steve preferred to be married to the military than to her.

Rico Rodriguez represented the casualties of war, physically. Blinded, lost one arm and limb, what could have been done to continue his life? For what good his sacrifice was? I watched it in horror that if the war is to be prolonged further, how many Ricos would be there? Worse, could the society treat people like Rico as normal? Would they be given jobs? Amazingly, Rico still felt grateful that he was still alive, although before King visited him, nobody did (not even his family, probably).

In the end, Augustine, Rico’s younger brother enlisted to service, too. How tragic it is, that watching the entire generation ruined by an unnecessary war.

The film was well performed and that it covered a lot of issues related to war and the implications. This is not a movie about the innocence of civilians out there in the battlefield just like what was depicted by The Battle for Haditha. Instead, it is a movie about issues on the other side, the soldiers’, and it became the main strength of this movie.

What I don’t like mostly was the ending. To me, it didn’t make sense at all. After all he did throughout the movie? Why did he finally take that decision? To what end? I was pretty much disappointed with how the movie ended. It’s as if the entire thing happened was for nothing.

Despite its ending, I would definitely recommend this movie. It would act as a reminder, especially for Americans, that those people out there in Iraq deserve a normal life too. Denying them their rights would not be fair. If nobody wants to enlist to the military again, that should be regarded as “we’re fed up by wars, enough is enough.”

The final score: 8.0.