The Men Who Stare At Goats
- Director:Grant Heslov
- Cast:Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey
- Release Date:March 04, 2010
- Running time:93 minutes
- Film Worth:$9.50
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
While this often hilariously haphazard film draws you in, you’re ultimately left trying to discern fact from fiction.
"More of this is true than you would believe." So goes the disclaimer at the start of this film. However droll, it also points to one of the film's principal flaws: when a story is based on fascinatingly bizarre real life events, it's a pity if we don't know just how much is factual.
Based on Jon Ronson's book of the same name, The Men Who Stare At Goats is about a top secret US government programme which explored the possibility of using paranormal powers against military enemies. Amazingly enough, this research stretched back to the fifties. The so-called "psychic spies" of The First Earth Battalion - or The New Earth Army as it's called here - tried, for example, to make goats drop dead by staring at them. They also experimented with "attack bees", trying to walk through walls, subliminal sounds and invisibility.
Ewan McGregor plays Bob Wilton, an American reporter who goes to Kuwait, and then Iraq, in search of a scoop. When he meets Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), a conscript to The New Earth Army, he realises that he's found his story. Various unwelcome and potentially lethal adventures ensue, in the course of which we encounter such unhinged characters as Bill Django (a perfectly cast Jeff Bridges), an alcoholic, acidhead, New Age flake and alleged telepathic genius. Then there's Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey), a renegade "Jedi" - as they called themselves - and all-round spoilsport.
Despite certain anachronisms, lots of annoying Star Wars allusions, and a fatuous touchy-feely element that we're evidently supposed to accept without irony, The Men Who Stare At Goats does draw us in. It has its dramatic and suspenseful moments, but a straight documentary would have been much better. Not that the powers that be would have cooperated with one!