Original Review Date: 1/6/2007
Home of the Brave is a war film that tells the stories of four soldiers that return home from a tour of duty in Iraq. Two of the four interlinked story lines are highly effective while the remaining two try and fail to be as engrossing.
The storyline that stands out above all of the others is the one that involves Vanessa Price, played by Jessica Biel. Biel turns in one of her best performances to date and makes a real person out of Price and her plight. The four main characters of Home of the Brave all have to deal with leaving the war and coming home but what Biel’s character has to deal with is the most traumatic and life altering. Biel has to adapt to an entire new way of life and way in which people perceive her. You feel for Price and her struggle. You see the way things used to be through the eyes of the people that knew her, which only serves to make her new reality worse. When you see her in the Veterans Affairs’ hospital with other maimed soldiers and uncomfortable on an escalator in her uniform after being discharged, you feel what her character is going through. You can easily put yourself in her place but at the same time, you are thankful that you are not.
Samuel Jackson has the second most effective storyline in Home of the Brave though it is the biggest of all four. Jackson plays Will Marsh, a family man and a surgeon that comes home and doesn’t know how to deal with what happened to him in the war or how to explain it to anyone, especially his caring and inquisitive wife, Penelope Marsh, played by Victoria Rowell. How do you explain amputations and the treatment of combat wounds incurred in military operations to a civilian? How do you relate these things to someone that’s never experienced them or seen the true face of war? This is what Jackson’s Marsh struggles with among other things, including open resentment from his anti-war son, Billy Marsh, played by Sam Jones III. Marsh internalizes his feelings and his turmoil, bottles them up until they erupt in unexpected and tragic ways for himself and his family.
The third storyline belongs to Brian Presley, who plays Tommy Yates, a soldier that loses his best friend, Chad Murray, and has to deal the guilt of possibly not doing all that he could to save him. The fourth storyline of Home of the Brave revolves around Curtis Jackson’s Jamal Aiken, his injury during the war, military compensation and a home life that doesn’t seem to want him anymore. The developments in these two storylines are the weakest of all four but are interlinked with Biel and Jackson’s storylines, bolstering them though they themselves are never made equal by this synergic effect.
Throughout Irwin Winkler’s Home of the Brave, the viewer is presented with different aspects of war and what soldiers have to deal with when they come home. You’ve seen some of subject matter before and in better films (The Deer Hunter, Black Hawk Down, etc.) but some you may not have or at least not in the context presented in this film.