The military's "stop-loss" policy allows the U.S. government to keep calling back soldiers for multiple tours of duty in Iraq. The human consequences of this policy are explored in "Stop-Loss," the latest from Kimberly Peirce, who is best known for directing (and co-writing) "Boys Don't Cry."
Obviously, with a title like "Stop-Loss," it's no surprise that this is a movie about a soldier who gets stop-lossed. But a lot happens between the opening credits and the soldier's order to report back to duty. In that long interval, the film establishes its attention to atmosphere and its respect for the Army, its culture and the kinds of communities from which soldiers spring. Clearly, Peirce's motives are pure. She's not using the "stop-loss" issue as a wedge to make the government or the administration look bad. She's using it to dramatize an injustice and to advocate on behalf of the soldiers.
And so she begins where she should begin, in Iraq, on a seemingly routine day at a checkpoint. Then something happens, and, in the blink of an eye, these young men find themselves in a narrow alley, with machine gun fire and rockets raining down on them from the rooftops. It's harrowing, men are killed and another soldier is blinded and crippled. We realize that every day this could happen, and that on some days it does happen, so it's understandable that every soldier in Iraq ends up counting the days until his duty is done and he gets to go home, alive and in one piece.
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