For one, the story presented in STOP-LOSS is predictable, with a plot that definitely needed some tightening during the script stage. The practice of forcing soldiers back to service is understandably unfortunate and frustrating, and I can see how a movie about Ryan Phillipe and his friends and family dealing with the situation could work. Instead we get Phillipe and a girl on a cross country road trip to Washington D.C. where nothing much happens. Everything meanders along—the romance never comes to fruition, the quest for justice quietly peters out—until the blah ending that didn’t leave me feeling much of anything.
Phillipe, still burning through the free pass I gave him after WAY OF THE GUN, is fine, but not remarkable. His chemistry with Abbie Cornish is lacking, which could be due to the material given. The biggest opportunity missed hoewever is with the supporting cast. Great actors like Ciaran Hinds and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are forgotten on the sidelines for most of the movie, with stories that are far more interesting than Phillipe’s. Gordon-Levitt especially continues to be a young actor worth watching, creating a volatile and unpredictable character that stands out amongst the group.
A few sequences are well-handed and effective to director Pierce’s ultimate goal, such as the visit to the disabled friend at the VA hospital. But overall STOP-LOSS was just not as good as it potentially could’ve been.
Commentary by director Kimberly Pierce and co-writer Mark Richard: I listened to this yesterday and can’t really remember anything from it, so it probably wouldn’t hurt to skip it.
Making of STOP LOSS (27:40): The personal details from Pierce was a nice extra layer to the film’s history, but the rest of this is your average (but perfectly acceptable) making-of doc.
A Day in Boot Camp (10:02): The actors don’t come off as too spoiled during their time in boot camp, though Phillipe referring to marching as “zen” is worth a chuckle. It was also fun seeing rich Hollywood types eat MREs.
Deleted Scenes (18:33): Eleven in total, some of which flesh out the ending and the romance a bit more.
Extra Tidbit: Pierce’s brother was in Iraq and a lot of the story and experiences were inspired by him.