Satire comes in two modes: Juvenalian – harsh, critical and in service of a serious point – and Horatian – light, humorous and affectionate. In attempting to do both, David Michôd’s War Machine doesn’t quite succeed at either, never fully gelling into the absurdist War on Terror satire to which it aspires.
Brad Pitt plays the fictional US Army General Glenn McMahon, brought into defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan. Flanked by an admiring entourage of misfits, McMahon’s cult of personality is risked both on the battlefield and in the company of slick, duplicitous politicians using McMahon’s reputation to further their own careers.
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