Is America still not ready for a movie that addresses the war in Iraq? Seems so: Like the spate of topical films that came before it, Stop-Loss failed to connect with audiences. In this case, at least, it's not difficult to understand why.
Directing (and co-writing) her first feature since 1999's Boys Don't Cry, Kimberly Peirce certainly has her heart in the right place, spotlighting the travails of soldiers (temporarily) returned home to Texas. But she focuses so obsessively on making a movie from their point of view, she fails to generate the kind of story-based drama that makes for a great film. Stop-Loss may be an important work, but it's not a particularly powerful one, especially given the subject matter.
Image quality on DVD is uniformly sharp and vivid, drawing a nice contrast between the simulated soldier-shot footage and the movie proper. The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is even better, with dynamic directional cues ratcheting up the tension in the action scenes. A 20-minute making-of documentary illuminates the real-life inspirations for the film, while Peirce's commentary with co-writer Mark Richard offers scene-specific detail on cinematic technique. A brief segment shows how hard the actors worked at their very own boot camp, but 18 minutes of deleted scenes (with optional commentary) merely illustrate why the scenes were ultimately left out.
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