The Thin Red Line ★★★★★

Malick's third feature marks a pretty dramatic change in his work. Leaving the sparsely populated countryside fields he'd made so iconic, The Thin Red Line tackles the epic scaled war genre head on, and he completely makes it his own. Following a group of American soldiers advancing into Japanese held territory, Malick subverts the heroic soldier beating the odds to victory against an evil enemy archetype completely as the characters struggle primarily with themselves. As they fight and die over a seemingly meaningless piece of land, the alternating voiceover narration contemplates good and evil, and attempts to discern any semblance of purpose amidst the relentless bloodshed. At a runtime nearly equal to both his previous films combined, The Thin Red Line takes roughly the same amount of content as his previous films and gives it significantly more room to breathe. The internal philosophical musings are vastly more on-the-nose than his previous works, but when paired with images of characters contemplating rather than montage-based actions, it feels perfectly natural. I will say that the runtime feels a bit indulgent at times, and I've gone back and forth between a 9/10 and a 10/10 with just about every rewatch, but this is easily my favorite war film regardless. Also, Hans Zimmer's score is absolutely flawless. His very best work in my opinion.

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