I don’t know the reasons… financial, fame, prestige? In any case, Netflix appears to be entering a new phase where it is trying to create theatrical quality films. Case in point is the $60M, straight to Netflix Brad Pitt film, War Machine.
For fun, let’s back up in time a bit here … suppose you are one of the decision makers in the room when Netflix decides on its first big budget film. I think you’d agree that Brad Pitt would be a good choice for the star. Why not? Everyone knows him, he’s usually in theatrical releases, and he is, in my opinion, a good actor who normally selects interesting films – not always blockbusters, but not a bad track record. OK, so you and the team decide, Brad Pitt it is. So far so good.
Then someone suggests, ‘hey, why not a film on a critical year of fighting in the US war in Afghanistan?’ You hesitate, but ask for more information. Afghanistan is not exactly compelling to most people. So they try to convince you by saying, ‘And let’s make it a satire. You know, like MASH, Catch 22, Good Morning Viet Nam, Wag The Dog? Extreme characters who are cartoonish and lovable in a horrible situation? But let’s leave out the lovable part.’
Waddaya’ think? Still a go? Yes? OK, good. So then someone suggests ‘basing it on a true story, about a time in the history of that war where more people were killed than any other. It’ll make it tougher to be funny, but maybe more compelling.’ It still sounds good to you huh? Well then let’s put the capper on it, let’s base the film on an article that appeared in Rolling Stone magazine, you know, that highly respected historical journal of record? But to keep from being sued, we’ll change people’s names. We’ll call President Obama “President Obama”, but everyone else, we’ll pick some names out of the phone book. Maybe instead of Afghanistan, we’ll call it Bafghanistan … nah, that’s too much. People would see right through it anyway.
And that must have been how it happened. High paid executives, smoking cigars in a room, yucking it up, and the result is War Machine.
The only thing I found interesting about the film — Brad looks about a foot taller, 20 pounds lighter, and is good at imitating a weird jogging style. That’s it. Everything else about the film is a NO.