Burrows’s review published on Letterboxd:
What a pleasure to revisit this Malick masterpiece. Although I enjoyed it back at the time, I was always slightly timid about returning to what I recalled being a slow-moving affair.
Couldn't be happier that I did. THE THIN RED LINE features a few career-high-point performances. John Cusack has a scene with Nolte where he says very little, but he has never been better in my mind. Notle in his small number of scenes is gravelly, crustily, and sadly perfect in "make the most of his moment" character. Cavaziel, Chaplin, and Koteas are as good or better than I can recall ever seeing the.
Here is a war-movie with a different purpose. The film's story is not about the taking of ridge or questioning delivering a commentary on political objectives or the horrors of military conflict. THE THIN RED LINE questions what makes humanity tick. What is the meaning of life in the greater scheme of things? For one character it is love--the wife he left at home. For another it is God, Whom he prays to for guidance.
For another it is career and advancement and the military politics therein. And for another, Cavaziel's, it is simplicity and positivity. He, like Malick at the helm, seems to be able to look outside the bubble of the war-theatre to see where humanity should be residing--simplicity, family, togetherness, community. It seems corny, but through Cavaziel's eyes we don't see the horrors of war, we see the decay of society that results from it.
Each scene in THE THIN RED LINE is beautifully driven either by dialog (which is almost poetic in its symbolism and description) or the painterly artistry of the scenery and imagery that Malick's camera captures. THE THIN RED LINE is at once a thoughtful poem and beautiful painting which somehow presents a story more interested in art, philosophical questions, and thoughtful exploration than it is in delivering a beginning, middle, and end of a WWII battle or the horrors vs humanity themes that are staple in the genre.