"Lions for Lambs" is a new film directed by and starring Robert Redford about the decisions Americans make on a daily basis to be apathetic or to take a stand in the world around them. The film also stars Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise.

Written by newcomer Matthew Michael Carnahan (his only other released film is "The Kingdom" which also came to DVD recently), the plot is divided into three simultaneous stories that seem unrelated at first, but become intertwined by the end. Nearly in real time, the short hour and a half film shows what could be happening on any given day.

Each story covers a different topic -- education, politics and the media, and the American struggle in the Middle East. Redford plays a college professor who sees potential in a student who seems to be slipping into apathy rather than making something of his life. Streep and Cruise go head to head as a journalist and Republican senator, respectively, over the current war strategy. Peter Berg plays a character who commands a unit in the Middle East, including two soldiers played by Michael Pena and Andrew Garfield who are wounded and stranded as they wait for rescue or reinforcements.

As each of these plot lines continues, they each become more heated and intense. What I liked best about this film was its propaganda-free presentation of all sides. It would have been easy to skew the film to one side or the other, especially to take shots at the right wing as is popular in our current society. Fortunately for the audience, the filmmakers simply invite the audience to participate in a discussion about the future of our country. This, to me, is both admirable and impressive.

My one major complaint was that I would have liked more movie to watch. While the concept of an hour and a half film in real time was very interesting and appealing, I found myself wishing for more. Having said that, the end came at a reasonable point in the story and allowed the audience to think about the questions posed in the film, rather than judge a conclusion that the film could have made.

Having already named the cast members, it should come as no surprise that the acting performances in this film are outstanding. Specifically, the storyline between Streep and Cruise is particularly impressive. Their scenes were probably the most interesting to me, as the question of politics and the media is so prevalent in our current society and directly affects the other two areas covered in the film.

The screenwriter delivered an amazing script that asks all the tough questions -- not just of its characters, but also of the audience. I wouldn't be surprised if you started a great discussion after watching the film. The combination of the three storylines hits you from all sides and leaves no stone unturned. While there is some action with the military section of the film, the rest depends on the remarkable dialog that carries the film.

I highly recommend the two featurettes on the DVD. "The Making of Lions for Lambs" has in-depth cast and crew interviews that covers topics from the script, casting, and reasons for making this film. "Script to Screen" talks more specifically about the screenwriting process with Carnahan and his collaboration with Redford to make this movie happen.

There is also an audio commentary with Redford, but I admit I have yet to watch it. Based on his interviews in the other special features, I imagine his commentary would be insightful and interesting.

"UA Legacy" is a retrospective featurette on the history of the United Artists film company who made this film. While it has nothing to do, specifically, with the making of this film, it was interesting to see how the company came together and what movies were made by them over the years.

For a well-balanced, dramatic thriller that will get your juices flowing, and perhaps spark an interesting conversation between friends, check out "Lions for Lambs" in your local store's new releases section.

Please send your questions, comments and DVD recommendations to Kelsey at pop@normantranscript.com.

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