Movie Reviews this week looks at the drama The Men Who Stare At Goats. The title of this movie itself is intriguing as it doesn’t give a clue what the movie is about.
It stars Ewan McGregor (the younger Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) as Bob Wilton, a journalist whose wife has just left him for his boss, he is feeling sorry for himself, and contemplates going to Iraq on a hunch after finding out about some psychic division of the U.S. military, he hopes to write about this that will get him recognition, and that doing this will stand him in good stead with his wife, and maybe she can see that he is doing something of major importance, so he can initiate a reconciliation with her. Whilst in Iraq he comes across Lyn Cassady played by the stalwart George Clooney (Ocean’s Eleven, Up In The Air). At first glance with the stories Lyn tells Bob, the audience just as Bob, begins to wonder about the mental well being of Lyn. afilmywap
Lyn constantly refers to himself as being a Jedi, while Bob dismisses it as absurd (I am sure the irony of Ewan McGregor playing a Jedi in the last three Star Wars movies is not lost on the audience). After a while you realise Lyn did indeed work for a special branch of the U.S. military called New Earth Army, led by the charismatic Bill Django played by the legendary Jeff Bridges (Star Man), Bill soon after the Vietnam war tried various aspects of the hippy lifestyle, and is recruited to lead the New Earth Army, where amongst other things the students were taught remote viewing: Being able to tell the exact location of where someone is just by thinking about them, Lyn reveals the military kept goats in an abandoned medical centre, which were used to train soldiers on how to dress a wound, he also reveals his psychic ability was tested on goats, hence the name of the movie.
The New Earth Army had Lyn as its star pupil, and one of Bill’s ingenuous techniques was to get his pupils to dance, and even say a little prayer to the Earth for eating its produce, these new age techniques, were found to be a little irritating to one of the other recruits Larry Hooper played by the dependable Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects), who has plans to launch a coup to take over the New Earth Army, not to mention being a little jealous of Lyn for his impressive psychic abilities.
Whilst in Iraq there is a little bit of reality for Bob, when on a journey with Lyn, their car breaks down in the desert, and as luck would have it someone comes along to pick them up, but they are taken as hostages instead, while Lyn calmly states nothing is going to happen to them, at this point the audience will no doubt be wondering just as Bob is, if Lyn has blurred the line between reality and fantasy.
This is an intriguing movie, and you are left wondering just how much of this story does the author himself believe as true. The opening credits does state most of the story in the movie is truer than you would believe, it is an interesting point of view, and regardless of its veracity it is compelling to watch.