Reviews are coming out due to the impending release of War Machine on Netflix this Friday (and limited release in UK & US cinemas). Here’s a roundup which I will add to as and when they are released.
Michôd … understands that his story is powerful enough with just the stuff we can prove. It’s not about conspiracies, or about a general who was a really bad guy. It’s about public opinion that only cares about foreign conflicts when it suits us, and a system that favors the kind of generals who say they can fix what everyone else says is broken. It’s about… well, a “war machine,” if you will.
Buffoonery aside, War Machine is a movie that remembers the big picture counts as well. (Rating: 6/10)
The film’s scabrous, sometimes-arch, other times spot-on critique ultimately comes together in an effective finale that retroactively puts a better light on the entire film than might have seemed possible during some of the earlier, rougher moments. There’s also constant pleasure to be taken from the way the film was made; it’s rough and bold, great to look at (cinematographer Dariusz Wolski is in top form) and enhanced by a varied, resourcefully thought-out soundtrack.
War Machine ends up firing on most cylinders. Despite some tonal stops and starts of its own, War Machine gets the job done. It’s frequently hilarious, downbeat, and flexes intelligence (and some all-star cameos).
The film is well-directed; Michod uses music ably, and has an eye for casting.
Michôd, lead us down an intricate rabbit hole to expose the gears that keep the ‘War Machine’ turning. Don’t be surprised to hear about award nominations on this one, and make sure to add it to your watch-list as soon as it’s out. (Rating 4 out of 5 stars)
Indiewire (Erik Kohn, US)
While there’s a separate conversation worth having about whether “War Machine” deserves the big screen, its focus is well-suited for the small one. It appears to focus on an massive subject, only to reveal a much more understated approach; the general may think he’s fixated on the glories of the battlefield, but he’s actually a victim of the hapless, protean system sustaining its existence.
Daily Review (Luke Buckmaster, Australia)
[War Machine] shows Michôd is an apt hand in a range of genres. (Rating: 3.5 out of 5)
Jo Blo (US)
Michod’s style is much more accessible here than it was in the occasionally confounding THE ROVER, making the movie easy to digest. And it’s a huge leap in quality for Netflix, with Dariusz Wolski’s 2:35:1 photography giving this a truly cinematic look … (Rating 8/10)
Splash Report (US)
War Machine aims to create a character for the ages. It does not quite get there–the Tarantino influence is too thick, the situational setups too obvious. But it does achieve greatness in its own right, it does deliver its message in a somewhat surprising fashion, without seemingly trying to hard, towards the end of the picture. It is then that you realize that history waits for no man, that the powers that be really are that powerful because they cannot be stopped and bugs will be quashed by any means necessary. (Rating: B+)
The List (UK)
He’s such an assured director that, despite his leading man’s awkward efforts, War Machine never feels like a mess, more an oddity; it might not say much that is new but it often says it in a way that hits home. (Rating: 3/5)
Despite its obvious satirical bent, War Machine is actually at its best in its more dramatic moments.
Little White Lies (UK)
In examining the complex and often calamitous War in Afghanistan, Michôd doesn’t shy away from this particular thorn in America’s side but instead grabs it with his teeth and pulls it clean out.
Cinevue (UK) (3 out of 5 stars)
That’s not to say War Machine doesn’t have a very serious and cogent point to make, however: the war on terror is a failure and further intervention in the Middle-East can only lead to more chaos. Early on, Scoot McNairy’s narrator cooly explains why counter-insurgency – winning hearts and minds – never works because “you can’t win the trust of a country by invading it; you can’t build a nation at gunpoint”.
At its best, “War Machine” crackles with irreverent wit, even if American political craziness circa 2009 looks tame compared with the 2017 version.
It’s apparent that “War Machine” director David Michôd takes great joy in subverting movie tropes, military and otherwise. When McMahon is put in slow motion, the sparkling dusk sun at his back, it means he’s about to be trumped or humiliated. The lessons of film (that the dreamers are the good guys and that the good guys win) run counter to the lessons of modern war (there are no winners), and Michôd is intent on laughing at the former to convey the latter.
I give points to filmmaker Michôd for capturing the essence of this story so well, and to Pitt—not only for his performance but for backing the film through his socially-conscious Plan B production company. War Machine is certainly worth seeing, but it doesn’t score the direct hit I was hoping for.
For all its biting political satire, and cogent military analysis, War Machine is an antiwar movie that is profoundly pro-warrior.
It’s a smart, sharp spitball of a film, but it would’ve been better with a smaller, subtler hammer. B+
Pitt’s deliberately over the top, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some observers say Pitt made huge miscalculations in his acting choices with the result being the worst performance of his career — but I found it to be a brazenly effective piece of work, well-suited to the material.
The Guardian (Peter Bradshaw, UK)
Not funny enough to be satire, not realistic enough to count as political commentary, not exciting enough to work as a war movie, David Michôd’s supposedly Helleresque romp, released on Netflix, is an imperfect non-storm of unsuccess. (2 stars)
But there just isn’t any juice, and it becomes apparent from the montage backstory and voiceover-heavy introduction that this is a film they tried to save in the edit suite.
Business Insider (US)
“War Machine” gets too caught up in the fog of war to give its audience anything to latch onto.
… it looks like the kind of bomb that Hollywood, not Washington, specializes in making.
The Playlist (US)
But I don’t even know where to start with “War Machine” helmer David Michôd (“Animal Kingdom,” “The Rover“) and what he was thinking. But give him points at least for an unwavering commitment to his concept even as his massive missiles fail to launch before the movie even really begins.
The Wrap (US)
What’s most dispiriting about War Machine is that you can sense the satire it wants to be – and could have been – but never becomes.
War Machine is a clattering apparatus; inelegant, propulsive and, ultimately, inefficient.
David Michôd, the talented Australian writer-director of Animal Kingdom and The Rover, loses his way in the byzantine byways of global warfare. His movie wants to be savagely satirical – a sort of millennial Dr. Strangelove. But he lacks Stanley Kubrick’s keen eye for the skull beneath the skin.
A film that veers wildly from war movie to character drama to satire to history piece to a blended gray of nothing.