Picks and Pans Review: Tigerland
It's 1971 and war is still raging in Vietnam. A group of Army grunts is in the final, brutal stages of infantry training in Louisiana, just weeks away from combat. Whether enlisted or drafted, these guys don't quite grasp what lies ahead and meekly follow even the most sadistic orders. Not so Roland Bozz (Farrell), a wily, rebellious draftee who has all the skills to be a first-rate soldier but none of the desire. "Courage," Bozz says sagely, "is when you're the only guy who knows how scared you are."
With Bozz as their guide, the men come to see that there's reason to fear and it's okay to voice it. The crafty Bozz makes it his mission to shepherd several gentler souls out of the Army, finding legal loopholes and other means to secure their discharge papers. For all, he serves as an inspiration, showing that even the Army, try as it might, can't extinguish or channel his fighting spirit.
A taut, unpretentious drama with sleeper hit written all over it, Tigerland is the kind of film you leave saying, "Now that was a good movie." Director Joel Schumacher, taking a break from big-budget extravaganzas such as the last two Batman films, is working on an intimate scale here and achieves impressive results. Tigerland also boasts a charismatic performance by Farrell (The War Zone), a 24-year-old Irish actor who looks to be a star in the making. Handsome, compactly built, with a devilish grin and swaggering walk, this guy is Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson rolled into one. Hubba-hubba. (R)
Bottom Line: Army drama earns its stripes