The Thin Red Line - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Thin Red Line Reviews

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October 14, 2016
Pales in comparison to the other War films that came out during the late 90s-Early 2000s. Don't get me wrong, this movie is absolutely beautiful, and the acting is exceptional, but there is literally no characters in this movie, and the story goes nowhere. Those two key components are things that make War movies like Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, Apocalypse Now and Black Hawk Down great. Pretty movie, just not a pretty good one.
Super Reviewer
October 1, 2016
Obviously Malick was never going to make a conventional war movie (major characters come and go, the voice over narration is unpredictable, and flashbacks occur without warning) or even a conventional anti-war movie . . . which is what makes this such a unique experience. Despite his endless philosophizing and shots of nature, Malick still manages to find a convincing and emotionally resonate ending, and that is quite an achievement.
½ September 19, 2016
The Thin Red Line has moments where it is a gripping war film that shows all the horrors of war with amazing cinematography, authentic sound, and solid acting. It could be something truly special and might have even competed with Saving Private Ryan for best WWII film of 1998. The problem is Terrence Malick is not content to just make a movie, he has to make a work of art. His idea of what makes a film great is so far removed from my own that I end up shaking my head in frustration. There is an abundance of breathy voice-over that overindulges in metaphors. Every character in voice-over and in heart-to-heart conversations talks like a Greek philosopher. There is symbolism oozing out of nearly every frame, and it is shoved in willy-nilly as opposed to keeping it in the logical structure of the film. It's cut so that you jump from the middle of a bloody battle where men are getting slaughtered and then all the sudden we see a baby bird that has fallen from its nest. The bird is not on the battlefield, it's not something that one of the soldiers encountered, because that would be a sensible way of injecting symbolism into your film. No, we just cut to that shot randomly and then cut back to death and destruction.

The pacing of The Thin Red Line I think could be best described as herky-jerky. It goes long stretches where nothing of relevance is happening other than soliloquies intermingled with images of trees, past love affairs, and more artsy-fartsy film school nonsense. Then, just when I'm about to fall asleep, we are thrust into battle and we get to see the soldiers act like real people, and start fighting a vicious battle trying to overtake a bunker or something like that. The big problem with the structure of Malick's films is that ethereal voices and a handful of random short flashbacks do not create character. So it's not long before I realized that I didn't care about any of the people who are getting gunned down because I don't KNOW any of them. There are loads of familiar faces in the cast, some really spectacular actors, but that's not enough to make me see any of their characters as real people. The closest I came was with Jim Caviezel because his character was set up early and almost had an arc, but even his death didn't quite resonate for me (perhaps the boredom had overwhelmed me at that point.) It's such a shame because there are snippets of time when The Thin Red Line is stunning and could be remarkably powerful, but Malick can't tell a consistent story because he has to attempt to make every moment deep and profound. If you tolerate Malick's particular brand of film-making then this movie is right up your alley, but for most movie fans I'd say avoid at all costs.
½ September 19, 2016
Bold, daring, and deep. Showing war as the monster it is while making you reflective on your own S distance
½ September 13, 2016
Very good action. The philosophical musing however didn't work for me. I already thought enough about the silliness of them shootings, the effects of daily murders and mayhem. Clearly, war is for psychopaths. It should probably be a prerequisite to be a soldier. No conscience.
September 6, 2016
While beautifully composed like Badlands and Days of Heaven, I didn't feel as strongly connected to the characters and this made the last hour unnecessary
September 5, 2016
With an ensemble cast lined up, The Thin Red Line sounded like it would be a well-acted war movie.

With The Thin Red Line, I did not know what to expect in terms of storytelling. I figured that it would be a rather large scale war film due to its large budget, the big ensemble cast and the fact that it runs for a total of 171 minutes. Of course as I expected, this also meant that it succumbed to a slow pace. Although the pace of the film is rather organic and it does not feel as if it is rushing anywhere, The Thin Red Line moves along very slowly at a pace which may end up fazing some viewers.
Occasionally, it feels as if The Thin Red Line jumps back and forth between the bigger picture and the smaller picture. The Thin Red Line is an ambitious challenge for Terrence Malick because it intends to be bother a big scale focus on World War II and one that focuses deeply on a large group of characters. This is a challenge that filmmakers can rarely get right, but Terrence Malick adopts his own way of doing it. In The Thin Red Line, the focus is on the characters during battle which it manages to get right. It shows how they deal with the harsh reality of the situation both physically and mentally, and it ranges from depicting the fighting soldiers to the people giving the orders and how all of them reluctantly contribute to the battle. But it can be a little overwhelming because there are a lot of characters to remember which can get somewhat confusing as well as the fact that the bigger picture of the war is not explained all that much. The Thin Red Line is one of those movies that assumes you have an understanding of everything that is happening before seeing the movie, but as I was not specifically familiar with what part of the war the film was depicting, I walked away from it rather confused. The story itself is not confusing, but the large quantity of characters combined with the lack of sufficient historical context in the story ends up rendering it a rather confusing film in certain retrospects. I don't know what the characters in The Thin Red Line were fighting for, but when you look into it neither did half the characters so the film is able to play that off well. But it boils down to if the viewer finds the film to be organically paced or just plain slow. I felt a bit of both, and I found that the film had certain poetic messages in it yet the pace of the film unfolded quite a lot of repetition amongst the plotting. The Thin Red Line was an ok film in the end for me, but I found that it was too focused on attempting to characterise a lot of figures that it ended up only lightly touching upon all of them. This was not too bad as it reminded us just how many people were shattered by the horrors of WWII, but it didn't end up being as deep as it wanted to be and so the focus for the film was a little scattered all over the place in the end. The characters in the film were good, but the narrative ended up being poor as a whole. All in all, The Thin Red Line didn't have too much of a great story to tell, but a lot of characters to tell it with and so it is an imperfect, slow and long film.
The scenery of the film is brilliant. Even though The Thin Red Line was shot in Queensland, Australia, it is completely convincing as having a South Pacific setting. It has a certain level of colour, but the war atmosphere of the film makes it all feel grim and dirty. But more importantly, it is captured with genuinely amazing cinematography. The cinematography in The Thin Red Line is excellent because of how it captures the facial expressions of the characters, the landscape of the setting and the feel of the battle all at once. The Thin Red Line is full of strong visual elements which establish the setting of the film and the timeframe, and it constantly ensures that things in the story feel rather genuine while rendering the film a good visual experience.
The talents of the ensemble cast do manage to contribute some success to the film.
Jim Caviezel is the standout in The Thin Red Line. Capturing the troubled nature of a soldier lost in the insane mentality of war, Jim Caviezel turns in a performance which is easy to sympathise for. He delivers his lines as if he has serious internal pain and emotional trauma, and he goes into a state of stoicism which is great. Jim Caviezel gives a performance which essentially reflects a turning point for his career in The Thin Red Line. Jim Caviezel is intense and powerful in his performance which is restrained and yet strong, and delivers his lines with strength and physical emotions well.
Nick Nolte also turns in a screen stealing performance. In the role of Lt. Col. Gordon Tail, Nick Nolte injects in a lot of powerful and intense line delivery into his role which has him gripping the character with powerful tenacity, and so his presence in The Thin Red Line shows off some of his most powerful acting skills. The Thin Red Line is a powerful depiction of Nick Nolte's acting skills, and so his casting is one of the best assets of the film.
Woody Harrelson's supporting performance is a grim and intense one. Although it is small and brief, he manages to make an impact with his short presence in The Thin Red Line. John Travolta, George Clooney and John Cusack all turn in small roles very nicely as well.

So while The Thin Red Line suffers from an abundance of ambition, a lack of context and some convoluted storytelling, it remains a realistically violent and well acted depiction of war which has certain importance in the underlying messages.
½ August 3, 2016
Terrence Malick's return to the director's chair after a 20-year hiatus is a war film that aspires to be meditative and organic, and does mostly succeed, albeit in a flawed manner. A very loose adaptation of James Jones' novel (in fact the film adaptation may actually bear more of a resemblance to Norman Mailer's World War II novel the Naked and the Dead), Malick has his camera men pay more attention to the beautiful surroundings of the Pacific, rather than so much the atrocities of war. It's a daring tactic for a mainstream Hollywood war film, but it gives the film a great sense of meditation, even during its battle scenes. Still, the film skimps on character development due to it having such a large cast and an unwieldily running time, and it's clear that initially Malick planned to flesh the story out a bit more. As with almost all of Malick's projects, hours of footage was cut in the editing room, and the lost material certainly shows in the story-gaps that The Thin Red Line has. That said, The Thin Red Line is a war film unlike most, and might be the strongest of Malick's post-1970s films.
August 2, 2016
Genuinely one of the finest in the war genre next to its relative "Saving Private Ryan", with further additions such as the taut direction and poetic-wise, in-depth writing from Malick's return, and Zimmer's effective score. Although, the characterization has a convoluting track that's generally not enough to bother the film's level. (B+)

(Full review TBD)
½ July 23, 2016
La batalla de Guadalcanal desde un enfoque distinto al usual en el genero belico, con un tratamiento filosofico y pacifista. A destacar la hermosa fotografia.
½ July 23, 2016
Not entertaining, just depressing. I may have to see it again just to be able to compare it to the tree of life.
½ July 12, 2016
Director Terrence Malick has a way of presenting is work where every shot looks like a beautiful piece of photographic art. His storytelling style is not for everyone, but I really loved the way he brings a cerebral and thoughtful take on telling a story of war. It is unique and compelling.
June 23, 2016
A thoughtful art-film take on the well-worn war genre.
June 23, 2016
although undoubtedly well made, acted, shot, and edited, the film overall is a unfocused, pretentious, and boring film with few amazing scenes. the first 30 minutes of this with the philosophical narration from different characters and the introduction was actually my favorite part of the film. it seemed to know what it was and it tried to focus on some characters. after that the movie lost the focus on characters and I wasn't able to attach myself and connect to any one person making the emotional weight of the movie weak. the acting is all great especially Sean Penn and a Nick Nolte. but it's not good enough to keep me entertained. perhaps o need to watch it again to fully understand it, if I didn't already, or maybe I just don't like Terrence Malick. either way I can completely see why people love this movie, but I can also see why people hate it. I'm somewhere in the middle but leaning towards the ladder.

June 20, 2016
It's hard to sum this film up. It impacted me more heavily than any other war film I've seen.
June 18, 2016

Unlike his most recent attempts where Malick seems to forget how to movie and ends up more as a "meh" poet, The Thin Red Line is a layered film with a massive cast and some of the greatest war moments war cinema has ever seen that even if it seems to lack an objective beyond its philosophical aspects, it is turly a story to care for and something that Malick shouldnt have forgotten how to do.
½ June 16, 2016
Terrence Malick was clearly trying to make three different films at different stages of the production. One during the writing, one during filming, and one during editing. And, for that, the story is left on the cutting room floor, but what's left is the emotion and the craft. With Malick, that's enough to make a good movie. But it could've been a great one.
June 12, 2016
John Travolta is an Admiral...and the Movie goes down from that highlights...Travolta almost BLOWS (lol) the landing...
½ June 6, 2016
It's intensely human, like all Malick films; this one highlights the best and worst of our many faces and reasons.
½ May 20, 2016
Awful film, no story, just a string of cliched images tacked together, i'd rather have root canal than watch it again.
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