The Men Who Stare At Goats (15)

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The Independent Culture

Interesting title, promisingly quirky subject, top-drawer cast – such a duff movie.

Whatever satiric juices were to be squeezed from Jon Ronson's bestselling book about the US military's efforts to harness paranormal abilities have failed to irrigate any part of this misbegotten adaptation. Ewan McGregor plays a reporter who happens upon a mysterious former soldier (George Clooney) claiming to have been part of an army experiment that purposed to change the way wars are fought. Under the command of an oddball military guru (Jeff Bridges), a legion of "warrior monks" were trained in psychological and paranormal techniques that would involve walking through walls, making oneself invisible and killing a goat simply by staring at it. Communal hot-tubs and acid trips were also a fixture of this bizarre boot camp. Peter Straughan's screenplay doesn't shape the material into a story, but merely rambles through a farce of military manners without suggesting that anything is at stake. Worse, there's not a single decent laugh to be had: even the cast look baffled by the barminess of it. Perhaps they hoped the jokes would be inserted later.