Political Film Society - Stop Loss

PFS Film Review
Stop Loss


Stop LossTitles at the end of Stop-Loss inform filmviewers that 81,000 of the 650,000 American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq have been given “stop-loss” orders. In the movie, squad leader Brandon King (played by Ryan Philippe) receives such an order after 150 combat missions that he thought was the limit of his time served. Directed by Kimberly Peirce, the film has four themes--an ambush in Iraq where three of his buddies die, homecoming to family and friends in a small town in Texas, a depiction of post-traumatic stress and physical injuries acquired by several Iraq vets, and Brandon’s attempt to flee the country. The ambush shows that Brandon had poor judgment in pursuing machinegunners into a trap, accounting for his evident guilt. The homecoming is short but is clearly a façade for the benefit of the homefront. One PTSD victim digs a hole in his front yard to be ready for the enemy with a weapon in his hand, another has become an alcoholic and commits suicide, and others get into brawls. Brandon tours a medical facility to observe severe wounds, including amputees. He has had enough fighting for one lifetime, goes AWOL and even pays someone $1,000 to obtain a fake passport identity with the intention of joining other defectors in Canada. The noir ending caps an anti-war film that has won a Political Film Society nomination for best film raising the consciousness of filmviewers to the tragedy of war. MH

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