Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk | Ang Lee gets in your face with an eye-searing anti-war satire

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
(Image credit: Mary Cybulski)

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Briefly back home in the States following an act of heroism during a tour of Iraq, a fresh-faced 19-year-old US army private (Joe Alwyn) faces an ordeal every bit as terrifying as combat: being publicly honoured during the halftime show of a Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day football game (American variety).

Based on a novel by Ben Fountain and set in 2004, satirical drama Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk seizes on the gulf between the reality of war, seen in eye-searing flashbacks, and the patriotic hoopla taking place in the stadium, complete with fireworks, marching bands and a performance by Destiny’s Child.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Garrett Hedlund Ismael Cruz Cordova Joe Alwyn

Discomforting hyper-reality

Director Ang Lee shot the film at an ultra-fast 120 frames per second (five times faster than the normal rate), which gives the images a discomforting hyper-reality. The intent is to give the soldiers’ experiences on and off the battlefield a raw immediacy, but the effect is to rub our noses in the film’s anti-war message. Still, the movie certainly grabs our attention, while Alwyn’s callow hero gets good support from the likes of Vin Diesel, Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Leigh and Steve Martin.

Certificate 15. Runtime 113 mins. Director Ang Lee

Available on Blu-ray & DVD  from 12 June.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.