Jim Sheridan's muted remake of Susanne Bier's 2004 film with the same title is an imperfect but well-acted examination of the after-effects of a traumatic experience in the war in Afghanistan. Tobey Maguire plays Captain Sam Cahill, a loving family man who begins a second tour of duty., He leaves behind his wife Grace (Natalie Portman) and their two young daughters. At the same time Sam's brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) is released from prison after serving a stretch for bank robbery. The film's thematic centerpiece act of brutality relays the vicious cycle of war that the American government perpetrates on its own people. Sam Shepherd is squandered with a script that hamstrings his role as military father to Sam and Tommy. Natalie Portman gives a delicate performance as Sam's tortured wife. As Sam, Tobey Maguire undergoes a complete transformation into a mentally traumatized individual, but his excellent performance isn't adequately supported by David Benioff's sporadically amateurish script.
Rated R. (104 mins.) (C+) (Two Stars)
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