Irwin Winkler cribs from the best in Home of the Brave unfortunately, he's copied the wrong masterpiece at the wrong time. And he's done so with a crayon. As a result, he's ended up with a Hallmark TV drama about the very antithesis of a Hallmark moment.
With William Wyler's powerful 1946 Oscar winner The Best Years of Our Lives, about GIs returning from WWII, as a guide, the veteran Rocky producer-turned-director follows the bumpy progress of National Guard soldiers returning from war in Iraq to peace in Spokane, Wash. Having survived a devastating ambush in the last days of their tour, when others in their unit did not, the vets come home to a blithe American dailiness now infuriatingly alien to them. Among them, a tough surgeon (Samuel L. Jackson) buries sadness with liquor. An athletic single mother (Jessica Biel) rages at her permanent physical wounds. A gentle guy tormented by back pain and haunted by his participation in the bloodshed (Curtis ''50 Cent'' Jackson) rapidly unravels.
The movie's aims are compassionate and respectful noble, even, in the desire to pack as much info (about amputees, about vet support groups) into the unsubtle, expository script by Mark Friedman. But evenness of political keel, combined with a generic filmmaking style, is an artistic weapon way too puny for a successful assault on so tough, bruising, and crucial a subject.