Watched Feb 17, 2012
Jason Panella’s review:
I remember when this movie was released, a group of buddies (all of whom would eventually go on to be in the military) went to go see this in the theater. They had nothing but bad things to say about it after they got back. "Man, it's so dumb — there's some combat for a few minutes, and then people talking about their feelings for an hour." I that isn't totally wrong, now that I've finally seen the movie (almost 15 years later).
Without thinking too much about the Mallickisms, I think the movie works really well. It's gorgeously shot, and the huge (and almost unnecessarily) huge A-list cast does a nice job. (They are all outshone by Elias Koteas, though, who is probably the best thing about the movie.)
Mallick's non-stop introspection is the bulk of the movie, of course. Characters are constantly in thought, and Mallick lets the interior world move things along (paired with lengthy, beautiful shots of the world around them, of course). All of these soldiers are seeking a state of grace somehow, and — at least for me — it was incredibly moving.
I find that it's hard to be mixed on Mallick's films — you either think he's a genius, or a pompous windbag. I'm in the former camp, but I'll admit that sometimes the character voiceovers can be a little too much (when they work, they're perfect, though).
Still, loved it.