Review: The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009 movie)

As a title card at the start of the film says, “More of this is true than you would believe.” Indeed, back in the late 1970s and the early 1980s an eccentric Army lieutenant colonel convinced his superiors to let him investigate a number of New Age ideas ranging from nonviolent conflict resolution to remote viewing to the ability to kill with the mind and eventually to form a multicultural, internationalist First Earth Battalion of supposed warrior monks at Fort Bragg. Really.

All this was explored in the book of the same title Jon Ronson and in a BBC documentary by John Sergeant, whose research Ronson drew on.

In the fictionalized movie set in the early 2000s, Ewan McGregor plays a hapless reporter for the Ann Arbor Daily Telegram whose wife has just left him for his editor and who decides (partly in the hope of impressing her) to become an Iraq war correspondent. He ends up stuck in Kuwait until he runs into George Clooney, formerly one of those Army warrior monks, who helps him get into the war zone and proves to be an odd mixture of skilled soldier, borderline superman, and incompetent raving loon. The film tells in flashback the mostly true history of the First Earth Battalion. Clooney likes MacGregor because he senses, he says, that MacGregor might a Jedi. Eventually they run into Jeff Bridges, founder of the First Earth Battalion, and his nemesis Kevin Spacey. A poster for the film gives equal billing to all five stars: McGregor, Clooney, Bridges, Spacey, and Goat.

It’s a rather understated dark comedy without many major laughs, but it’s still entertaining.


Link: https://youtu.be/GC2TzspJn5A

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