…Out like a lamb

Despite boasting an all-star cast and an Oscar-winning director, “Lions for Lambs” falls short of being a blockbuster due to its lack of action and an excessive amount of tedious dialogue.

Screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan offers his second political drama of the year following “The Kingdom,” which hit theaters back in September. “Lions for Lambs” places the essence of its drama on political propaganda and the internalized quagmires of a Washington journalist and a disenchanted political-science major in California.

Senator Jasper Irving, played by Tom Cruise, invites tenured news writer Janine Roth (Meryl Streep) to a private meeting in which he tells her that she will be given an exclusive on a new campaign in the six-year-old war in Afghanistan. He begins to spew his political bravado which Roth immediately recognizes as eerily reminiscent of Vietnam-era politics.

The exuberance of Irving throws Roth into a personal dilemma when she is forced to decide if the candor of the senator is genuine, and whether or not to write yet another story indicating that government officials have launched a new campaign that they say will “win the war.”

When the first phase of the new military plan fails, two soldiers are stranded on a mountaintop in eastern Afghanistan and a rescue mission is authorized. At the same time that the campaign is failing and Irving is offering his party line to Roth, a southern California professor tries to understand and inspire one of his students, who is disillusioned by political characters such as Irving.

The three storylines developed in the film become intertwined through a story told by the professor played by award-winning director Robert Redford, in his discussion with his promising yet perplexed student.

True to the form of a political thriller, there is a lack of excitement which will not keep action fans interested; however, the intelligent dialogue that is rampant throughout the movie will hold the attention of drama fans.

The storyline seems somewhat mundane, since Americans have seen this same story played out in Washington for six years, but director Robert Redford guides his cast into another solid political thriller for 2007.

3 out of 4 stars