War Machine thinks its much more clever than it actually is. It believes that just by focusing on the War in Afghanistan with a little humor and criticism that it is automatically elevated to greatness and worthy of praise. There are memorable moments in the film, but ultimately its jumbled narrative structure and ultimately boring premise makes it a movie enemy that’s hard to engage.
Based on the nonfiction book The Operators by Michael Hastings, a journalist who was known for his Rolling Stone article that lead to the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal. Brad Pitt takes on the McChrystal-esque role with his General Glen McMahon, a respected army official tasked with ending the war. We know this because there is a narrator jabbering in our ear through pretty much the entire length of the movie, telling us everything we need to know, the relationships of the characters and never letting loose. Pitt does his best with the grunting general, with the best moments coming from his awkward conversations with his estranged lover. Only until the general meets his the journalist who would document him do we get a sense of where this is going. Sadly, we’ve already trudged through more than an hour of wartime monotony to get to this point.
To be fair, its hard to get audiences interested in an Afghanistan wartime farce this day and age, when that was was much more associated with President Bush and Obama which seems like lifetimes ago compared to our current situation with Trump. This movie would have been much more relevant to watch anytime between 2014 and 2016, when Hastings’ article and the war in general was much more relevant. Now, we almost watch this movie for not its indictment of the Afghanistan war but with nostalgia that at that time, this was the biggest thing we had to worry about.