The Thin Red Line Movie Review

War is hell. I think.

Terrence Malick's long-awaited and severely overhyped Line is plenty red, but it isn't thin at all. In fact, it's damn thick and dense, and it meanders about like a lazy river.

At almost three hours, The Thin Red Line burns long and slow, and fully a third of the movie is completely wasted on surrealistic, bizarre voice-overs that do little but confuse what is an otherwise running theme in the film: War blows.

But Malick is a hermitic auteur, and as such, he must be allowed to do as he pleases. So, for example, instead of seeing the film--and the war--only through the eyes of its central character, Jack Witt (Cavaziel), we are treated to behind-the-brain looks at a half-dozen other characters, too. And they all pretty much agree that WWII is a real pisser, for some reason or another.

Not that Line is without its strengths, the middle third is a juicy look at the horrors of the war in the Pacific and the power plays of military officers. But, sadly, much of Line is a simple vanity project, not just for Malick but also for the dozens of name-brand stars involved. Witness John Travolta and George Clooney in blatant I-flew-in-for-the-afternoon one-scene appearances. Such star quality and behind-the-scenes hype will do a lot to woo critics and Oscar voters... at the expense of truly good filmmaking.

The movie's camerawork and performances by Cavaziel, Chaplin, Penn, Koteas, and Cusack should not be overlooked, and Nolte's put-upon Lt. Colonel is a memorable piece of work. But as for the silly metaphysical script that invents more English language constructs than it adheres to... well, let's just say that the importance of a good story editor can't be stressed heavily enough.

All eyes out for Mr. Malick...


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Joebiff's picture

Joebiff

Malick is a creative genius. In the Thin Red Line he demonstrates art through many images of symbolism.

7 years 6 months ago
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The Thin Red Line Rating

" OK "

Rating: R, 1998

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