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Film / Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a 2016 war film and media satire adapted from the novel by Ben Fountain, directed by Ang Lee and starring Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel, and Steve Martin.

It is 2004 and Billy Lynn is a 19-year-old soldier in the United States Army who becomes a reluctant celebrity after his company, Bravo Company, survives a harrowing battle in Iraq. The Army brings them back to the U.S. for a victory tour, and as the tour progresses, the truth of the battle gradually unfolds through Billy's memories, leading up to a climactic halftime rally at the Thanksgiving Day football game.

Ang Lee, famous for pushing the technological envelope in previous movies like Life of Pi, does so again here, filming the movie in 3D using 4K cameras at 120fps to create an unprecedented feeling of immersion during the war sequences. Ang Lee's next film, Gemini Man would be filmed the same way.

The film was on November 11, 2016. The trailer can be seen here.

This film includes examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: The movie was released in 2016 and is set in 2004.
  • And Starring: With Vin Diesel And Steve Martin And Introducing Joe Alwyn as Billy Lynn.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Billy hooks up with one after a press conference.
  • Analogy Backfire: During the movie deal negotiation with Norm, he equates Bravo's story with that of the the Alamo. Billy responds to that by reminding Norm that in reality, the Mexicans completely kicked Texas' asses.
  • Artistic License – History: The soldiers aren't taught their choreography at the show until the last second; in real-life the soldiers participating in the show rehearsed for days beforehand.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Billy's sister is very concerned about his welfare and trying to keep him form going back when he isn't fit for it.
  • Blood Knight: The team briefly plays this up to intimidate an oilman who rubs them the wrong way by talking about how he's increasing domestic drilling operations as a way of decreasing reliance on foreign oil to try and stop the war in the Middle East.
  • Brick Joke: Billy constantly asks Josh, their Dallas team rep for painkillers throughout the movie. He eventually gets an entire bottle after their falling out with Norm.
  • The Cameo: Tim Blake Nelson gets a memorable one as Wayne Foster, a Texas oil baron who gets a telling off from Sgt. Dime.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Though they're both Sergeants in this instance, Shroom is portrayed as more laid-back and philosophical while Dime is quicker to discipline his men when necessary.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted. An insurgent using a truck for cover still gets obliterated by .50 caliber machine gun firing through it.
  • Cultured Warrior: Sgt. Shroom (Vin Diesel) definitely fits in this category, as he spends his spare time reading poetry and discussing philosophy with his squadmates.
  • Expy: Norm Ogelsby (Steve Martin) is one for real-life Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
  • Father to His Men: Shroom disciplines, but protects his men like his own sons. Before going into combat, he even takes the time to hold the shoulders of all of his men while telling them "I love you".
  • Fake Shemp: Conveniently, you never quite get to see Beyoncé, Kelly, and Michelle of Destiny's Child from the front, as all three are portrayed by stand-ins. This becomes fairly obvious when you have close-ups of the character's interacting with each other, with their hair or the environment conveniently blocking their faces from the camera.
  • Hidden Depths: Albert and Josh can seem like bumbling, insincere tools for a while, but Albert compliments Billy for his integrity in standing up to Norm even though it cost them the deal at the end and Josh shows some protectiveness of the team during their fight with the security guards.
  • I Will Wait for You: Fason the cheerleader gives Billy contact information and promises to stay close, although in the book he doubts that will work out.
  • Imagine Spot: Billy has some during the press conference scene. When the press asks some awkward questions, he first imagines brutally honest answers said by his squadmates, before the scene transits to the question being repeated again, then the squad responding in the typical politically-correct propaganda answers.
    Reporter: Are we making a difference over there?
    (Imaginary) Sgt. Dime: Absolutely sir, America's out there producing dozens of suicidally pissed-off insurgents every day!
    * Rewinds*
    Sgt. Dime: I think we are, yes.
    Reporter: What do you do in your downtime? For fun?
    (Imaginary) Bravo Squad: Masturbate.
  • Informed Flaw: Kat's scars. According to dialogue, they are so horrific that her fiance left her and she's had trouble getting laid since. From the audience's perspective, she has some barely visible scarring on her left cheek and stomach but otherwise still looks like Kristen Stewart.
  • Ironic Name: Fason's last name (Zorn) means angry but she's one of the sunnier characters.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: An insurgent in the flashback is reduced to one after several .50 caliber rounds from a Humvee's Browning M2 machinegun rips through him.
  • Mildly Military: Played with. Off-duty, the squad is shown to engage in such activities as alchohol-infused hotel room parties with strippers, hookups with cheerleaders, and introspective joint-smoking. Their Sergeant, however, does maintain fairly strict discipline when in public, and is shown reprimanding Billy and Mango after they go joy-riding in the company Humvee.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Dallas football team is never actually referred to by name as the Cowboys, though this is not very surprising considering the film's less-than-flattering portrayal of it's employees and fans. This extends to the character of Norman Oglesby being a fairly blatant stand-in for real-life Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones.
  • Pom-Pom Girl: Fason and the other cheerleaders are fairly sunny people trying to be comforting and supportive towards the soldiers, and it's mentioned that they do a lot of public appearances in the community that they find emotionally satisfying.
  • Present-Day Past: The movie is set 12 years before its release date and there are some anachronisms, such as an advertisement for PrivateFly, when that company was created in 2007 and thus didn't exist in 2004.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Sgt. Dime, arguably the most badass character in the entire movie, drops various references to films and TV shows, wishing to be portrayed on-screen by Mark Wahlberg and namedropping Boogie Nights and Wahlberg's character Dirk Diggler.
    • Coincidentally, Hedlund who plays Dime is in Four Brothers with Wahlberg. Whereas he's a tough guy in this movie, in Four Brothers he is a soft and feminine character.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Both Billy and Sgt. Dime eventually turn down the paltry movie offer made by Norm after the latter's jingoistic speech about how their story now belongs to America rubs Billy in all the wrong ways.
  • Shown Their Work: The army uniforms, weaponry, and equipment are all highly accurate for the time period the movie takes place in, 2004. Lynn's unit is the 2nd Infantry Regiment, which today is part of the 10th Mountain Division, but back in 2004, was part of the 1st Infantry Division as depicted in the film and was indeed deployed to Iraq that year.
    • The inner workings of a professional football stadium on game-day, and the politics therein is equally accurate.
    • The soldiers even shout "Backblast area clear!" before firing their M136 rocket launchers. They also use them against non-vehicular enemies. Their panicked screaming and their initial disorderly conduct during their first engagement is also fairly accurate.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Both Crack and the eponymous Billy Lynn, though the former is arguably worse off since he seems to suffer from nervous breakdowns compounding his already erratic tendencies.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: There's a funeral in the trailer and Vin Diesel is only seen during the Iraq War flashback scenes. Guess what happens.
  • War Is Glorious: Deconstructed to hell and back. The people whom espouse this belief to the actual veterans in the movie are portrayed as blithely ignorant and shallow and are told off as such. Whilst in the field, the soldiers are simply trying to survive and make the best out of an incredibly stressful situation.
  • War Is Hell: An overarching theme seems to be that this concept is something that ordinary people will never be able to truly grasp.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Kat to Billy and herself.