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Movie Review: Lions for Lambs

What will you stand for? What is worth dying for? What will you fight for? These are the questions you will leave asking after seeing Lions for Lambs.

The motion picture features heralded actors such as Robert Redford as the wise and calm Professor Stephen Malley, Meryl Streep as the hard-nosed news reporter Janine Roth and Tom Cruise as the vicarious senator Jasper Irving. The movie, also directed by Robert Redford, features three separate stories that are majestically intertwined around the question: What is worth giving your life for?

The movie comes out at a crucial period in America. Since September 11, emotions over the issue of terrorism have run rampant. The public and the media grow increasingly dissatisfied as the war in the Middle East seems only to progress in number of body bags used, not in the development of peace. Incumbent politicians hold on ever so strongly to their hope for a democratic Middle Eastern society. American soldiers continue to fight a supposedly primitive enemy that changes consistently in fighting tactics and grows daily in numbers.

This is not just the current state of affairs in the United States, but also the setting in which Lions for Lambs takes place.

Trying to convince his young pupil, Todd Hayes (Andrew Garfield) that his potential is more than just that of a frat boy who chases women, Professor Malley begins telling of two of his previous students who made the most of their lives. Being underprivileged minority students, they looked adversity in the eyes, excelling in social politics and increasing their chance to make a difference in a world full of injustice.

The way they chose to use their growing potential: by joining the American military as Marines.

As the conversation continues between professor and student, across the continent reporter Janine Roth meets with Senator Jasper Irving. The meeting reveals the senator’s intentions of engaging in a new plan that will end the war in the Middle East. It is a plan that according to Roth looks frighteningly familiar to a Vietnam War strategy. It is a plan that began as Roth entered the senator’s office.

The third part of this story occurs in the Middle East, with soldiers Arian Finch (Derek Luke) and Michael Pena (Ernest Rodriguez). The two soldiers, against their better judgment, follow the orders of their commander to engage in a mission to siege what is supposed to be inactive land. Instead, these two heroes find themselves in the midst of chaos as they fight for their lives. And these two soldiers are students of Professor Malley.

If you liked the beautifully interwoven plot work of Crash (2004), you will surely love how these three stories collide together. The acting is also superb.

A movie that headlines Robert Redford, Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise is poised for letdown. However, Lions for Lambs offered none.

The movie will leave you asking the questions: Is it enough in life to just be average? Is it worth grasping greatness, only turn out to be a crooked leader? Is there something wrong with giving up the lions for the lambs?

No matter what your political standings are, no matter where you stand on the war in the Middle East. Lions for Lambs is a must-see for every college student wondering about the next step in life.

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