In for something different? You sure? With a cast like Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges and George Clooney you still can watch something you are not expecting. Well with THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS you are in for one weird experience.
THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS is a movie, which can be enjoyed more thoroughly if you have watched the documentary CRAZY LEADERS OF THE WORLD, PART ONE. At least that is what I read after seeing the movie. So I am not sure whether or not I enjoyed the movie as it was meant to be.
Anyway the movie tells the story of Ann Arbor Daily Telegram reporter Bob Wilton, played by Ewan McGregor. One day he interviews Gus Lacy, a guy who claims to have psychic abilities. Bob is quite sure he is plain nuts and does not pay attention to it. When his wife leaves him for his editor, he gets new energy through his anger. He flies over to Kuwait to do some soul searching or some proper journalism by investigating the Iraq War.
He finally meets Lyn Cassady, a (ex-) Special Forces guy. Who reveals he was part of an American army unit specialized in training psychic soldiers or “Jedi Warriors” as he calls them. This role is being portrayed by George Clooney and he does this quite good if you ask me. Some of the dialogue cannot be taken seriously, but he pulls it off without showing even the slightest of a grin.
Lyn and Bob go through some incidents and as the story progresses Bob learns more about Lyn his past and what these so called Jedi Warriors could do. Some examples Lyn gives are: invisibility, remote viewing, cloud bursting, walking through walls and intuition.
They eventually meet up with the founder of the original unit, Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) who now is employed by PSIC, depressed and a bit of an alcoholic. PSIC is a private research firm with a focus on psychological and psychic experiments. This firm is being run by another former student of Bill, Larry Hooper. Larry was a student who has a focus on the “Dark Side” of the psychic powers (aka Darth Vader right?). So Lyn does not like the methods Larry is now employing with PSIC.
In the meanwhile Bob learns even more of the ways the New Earth Army were suppose to operate and he and Django eventually spike the water and food of the military base. With the entire base being “a bit high”, they free the goats and some captured locals who where being used for psychic experiments.
Lyn and Django fly off in a helicopter and Bob is left behind, entrusted with all the knowledge he has gained to write an article about everything. However when the story gets aired on the news, only the portion of how the captives were forced to repeatedly listen to Barney & Friends was shown. And even this portion was not taken seriously by the news network.
In the final scene we see how Bob finally “ascends” to the realms of “Jedi Warriors” when he storms out of his office running through a solid wall vowing the true story will be heard by the public. Just like a true Jedi of the Light Side.
Now this movie is really something you honestly cannot take seriously without knowing what it actually all about. Of course there is some humour in it, but with some Googling I found out that the movie is based on above-mentioned documentary, which is based on a book (similar title) tracing back to 2004. This book, written by Jon Ronson with research from John Sergeant, examines several different connections with paranormal military programs and psychological techniques being used for interrogation in the War on Terror.
The book goes back three decades only to reveal that these techniques are being used by the U.S. in Iraq. Besides the whole Barney & Friends on Iraqi prisoners-of-war, the smuggling of hundred goats into the command centre at Fort Bragg (North Carolina) and the mass-suicide of the members of the Heaven’s Gate cult in San Diego is also being discussed.
Well this all just sounds dandy to me, but I have not seen any documentary nor have I read the book. So how does one enjoy a movie as odd as this? Well to be honest, you hardly do enjoy it. Sure some scenes were funny, especially the ones with goats suddenly dropping or references being made with STAR WARS. But after the movie was over, you could really notice that the audience did not like this movie.
But here at criticism.com we are giving you an honest and unbiased view on movies and with this in mind I can say that the movie was indeed weird and something I did not see coming. But in the end I did enjoy the watch and I could see what the director was trying to do. I however have mixed feelings whether or not he did a thorough job with this movie. The acting itself is decent, though nothing special. I really enjoyed the role of George and I will definitely watch the movie again after viewing the documentary. But I think with a few extra frames in the beginning or at the end of the movie, would have helped out a lot of people.