Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is captivating Oscar bait. In 4K/3D/120-frames-per-second, its photorealism takes time to adjust to—it looked B-movie-ish or sitcom-y, at first—but once adjusted, we were hypnotized. The story concerns a squad of soldiers who, during a victory tour, make an appearance at a NFL halftime show. The victory tour owes itself to Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn), whose heroics in combat, in Iraq, were captured on video, and went viral. Most of the movie takes place after the fact and examines, through flashbacks and hallucinations, Billy’s disillusionment with the heroic image heaped on him. Thankfully, this is handled humorously and movingly and reflexively, as a subplot concerns getting a movie about the squad produced. Loosely plotted, Billy Lynn’s Walk is essentially a hangout film that draws on a convincing performance from Alwyn and effective turns by Garrett Hedlund and Vin Diesel. Because of a few particular scenes and characters, it has the tinge of being, if not anti-war, anti-Iraq War, which, in 2016, does not make it liberal or radical. Ultimately, though, the movie is about the spiritual succor drawn from camaraderie. And there’s nothing political about that.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White