Home of the Brave (2006)

Home of the Brave is a film that looks at what happens to soldiers after they come home from war, and attempt to pickup their broken lives, hampered by their emotional and physical scars. It stars Samuel Jackson, Jessica Biel, Brian Presley and 50 Cent. This theme, which has been done before in films like Born on the Fourth of July is told within the context of the current Iraqi conflict.

The film opens with our soldiers going on a humanitarian supply run, with the knowledge that they are going home in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, they get ambushed in an urban environment, and severe casualties ensue. Biel's character, Vanessa Price, sustains a severe injury that results in the loss of her hand. When the dust settles, she ends up in rehab, and the unit of Army Reservists gets shipped back to their home state of Washington.

While all seems well at first, we see the emotional scars that they all bear. The soldiers manifest classic signs of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) with emotional outbursts, aggression, and insomnia. They all seek to self medicate with alcohol, which inevitably makes the situation worse. They are unfocused, and it interferes with their work, or even their ability to get a job. We follow the characters as they weave among the VA bureaucracy, and attend support groups, which they resist going to.

There are two medial tie ins to Home of the Brave. The first is that during the time I spent at the VA hospital, I did see plenty of manifestations of PTSD like this. While it was far more common among the Vietnam veterans, after the film Saving Private Ryan came out, and suddenly emotions had been stirred that were long ago compartmentalized, it got to the point that support groups for WW II veterans were started to deal with some of these issues. The other medial issue is that when Vanessa Price's hand is bleeding, they used QuickClot to control the bleeding and achieve hemostasis, which is a new topical hemostatic agent used frequently in the military, but only rarely stateside at this point.

Overall, Home of the Brave is a difficult film to watch. The acting was well done, and the theme of emotional battle scars is one that our nation needs to be more cognizant of. Unfortunately, I feel that at times the film gives things the made for TV movie approach to important issues. For example, Samuel Jackson's character, despite heavy drinking, never hits rock bottom. It would have been more powerful had he been involved in a car accident while under the influence, or been unable to perform his duties as a doctor due to being impaired. Instead, we just get that he decides to "quit the bottle," and he does with no adverse effects- hardly realistic. Still, Home of the Brave takes up an important topic that is far too often ignored, and it makes for a powerful film.

Overall Grade: B

Reviewed by Jonas


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