The Thin Red Line (1998)

THE THIN RED LINE is a little like opera-- you don't have to under-
stand it to enjoy it.  Confusing, confounding, abstract, and im-
pressionistic, last year's *other* big war movie still contains 
some of the most striking imagery in years (decades?).  Adapting 
James Jones' 1962 novel, writer/director Terrence Malick (BADLANDS, 
DAYS OF HEAVEN) has produced pure poetry for the eyes.  (Think a 
nature flick disguised as a war movie.)  He also stages some superb 
combat sequences, though the first firefight doesn't happen until 
about 45 minutes in.  (The standout scenes involve jungles, jungle 
villages, and miles upon miles of impossibly tall grass.)  Where 
this 170-minute-and-feels-like-it film falters is in the narrative.  
Plot points are vague, character arcs confusingly overlap, and most 
of the young male actors look alike and, worse, sound alike.  (The 
latter is particularly problematic given that these guys are prone 
to internal monologues.)  At Mission Valley, where it took a good 
30 minutes to get the damn thing focused, the sound quality also 
left something to be desired.  I know *I* missed some dialogue...  
With Sean Penn, James Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, Elias Koteas, Adrien 
Brody, Jared Leto, Dash Mihok, an intense Nick Nolte, and assorted 
(and at times distracting) cameos by John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, 
and, with one scene each, John Travolta and George Clooney.  (Rated 
"R"/170 min.)

Grade: B

Copyright 1999 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: Two More

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros