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Flags of Our Fathers

Flags Of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood)

"Eastwood Delivers A Formulaic War Film"

Six men raised the American flag at Iwo Jima and the photograph that was taken became the most important photograph of that time. John "Doc" Bradley, Rene Gagnon and Ira Hayes are the only men left alive who were part of the photograph and encourage the rest of America to buy bonds in supporting the war.

Still flying high after his win from Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood teams up with writer Paul Haggis and goes after the Oscar once again, this time with Flags of our Fathers. I wasn't the biggest fan of Million Dollar Baby, it is vastly overrated, so I wasn't expecting the best with Flags, I didn't get the best either. While a lot of it works very well, it is just too formulaic and will not grab you emotionally.

Let's begin with the war scenes, which is how it opens. All the war scenes are told in flashbacks, which are scattered throughout the film, sometimes even in the most random and pointless parts. The battle of Iwo Jima is an astonishing. The gray and light blues used really add to the experience. It's realistic and honest, you feel like you are on Iwo Jima with the soldiers. The war scenes aren't as dramatic or brutal as Spielberg's war effort in Saving Private Ryan, but it places a close second.

The supporting cast shines here, unlike the leads. I really enjoyed Barry Pepper and Robert Patrick in their small roles. Adam Beach's performance is 50/50. His highlight is when he breaks down emotionally in disgust with what he has become. He never wanted to be a hero, but that's exactly what Americans see him as. He drinks his problems away, which is where the performance drags. He is either drunk throughout the film, or p'd off at himself and the other soldiers for "forcing" him to become a hero. No real range until the end, when it's too late. Ryan Phillippe doesn't really shine here either. He does a decent job, but nothing he does really grabs the viewer emotionally. You never really feel connected with any of these characters; I couldn't even keep track of half of them. If this was intentional because in amidst of the war you never know who or where anyone really is, then they succeeded, but at the price of grabbing it's viewer.

I mentioned earlier that the film's war scenes are told in flashbacks, some in the most random of places. This really hurts Flags, because it becomes really redundant (much like Beach's character). You'll have a war scene, then you'll come back to the men being praised by Americans, then back to a war scene, and we're back to the men being praised by Americans.... back to the war scene, you get the picture. You begin to lose interest in what is happening cause you saw it in the scene prior. Eastwood drags the film on in the final 10 or so minutes and you can really tell. There is nothing left in the story to tell, but the film keeps on truckin. Although, I thought they would end the film with the iconic image of the men raising the flag, I was also pleased with showing them swimming in the ocean, pulling back and revealing the American flag.

Flags of our Fathers will get it nominations, but I doubt it will win much. It looks beautiful and stunning, but it's repetitive structure and average performances hurt it in the major categories. Going into the film you would expect greatness, after all this is the guy who gave us Unforgiven, Mystic River and much to my dismay, Million Dollar Baby, but with Flags it seems that it is missing that one thing that could take it to greatness. With all it's potential, it's sad to see it miss a few steps.