THE LUCKY ONES (Neil Burger). 113 minutes. Opens Friday (September 26). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
The hype on The Lucky Ones would have you believe it's a new kind of Iraq War movie. In fact, it's exactly the same one as last year's In The Valley Of Elah and 2006's Home Of The Brave, following a cross-?section of battle-?bruised veterans as they come home and try to adjust to life in the U.S.A.
It's also just as contrived and banal. Maybe even more so, since neither Elah nor Brave tried to graft its melodrama about alienation and post-?traumatic stress onto an ill-?advised road movie framework.
The Lucky Ones casts Michael Peña, Rachel McAdams and Tim Robbins as three Iraq War vets. Robbins has just been discharged; the other two are on a month's leave after being injured in combat. The three drive across America on a hackneyed journey of self-?discovery.
Following the Crash model, everyone starts out with precisely one problem. After some ironic social observation and a random emotional display, that problem gets resolved. For the audience, it's a long, hard slog.
The actors do their best to create fully imagined characters, but writer/director Neil Burger's vapid script (co-?written with Dirk Wittenborn) gives them nothing beyond the most simplistic traits. He does throw a digital twister at them, but it's a means to a life lesson, so never mind.