Movie Review: ‘The Yellow Birds’

Review by Bradley Smith

Alden Ehrenreich steps away from a war from a long time ago in a galaxy far away for a war much closer to our time and space. The Yellow Birds follows young soldiers through the horrors of the war in Iraq, while weaving in their life after they return home; spoiler, their lives back home after war are not all rainbows and sunshine. Even Tony Stark had PTSD and that’s a fun fantasy war series. Yellow Birds is harsh, gritty, depressing, and not even close to “fun”.

The film centers on two soldiers in particular, young friends John Bartle (Alden Ehrenreich; Solo) and Daniel Murphy (Tye Sheridan; Ready Player One) as they find their footing in the military and try to survive the horrors of the war in Iraq. Cut to some time later, Bartle has returned home, but Murphy is “missing”. What happened to Murphy? That is one of the central mysteries that you may not want to solve. Along the way, it is clear that Bartle is suffering from PTSD, made abundantly clear by his reaction to his mom (Toni Collette) trying to get him out of bed.

The film is decent enough, though there isn’t much that distinguishes it from other war movies. Even the use of time jumps back and forth to unfold the mystery has become routine. And, while the inclusion of their families helps to humanize the soldiers, I still found myself disinterested in the overall story.

That being said, if you do like dramatic mysteries and war movies, this would probably be up your alley. The acting is great (mostly), even from Jennifer Aniston (Murphy’s mom) whom I do not normally associate with drama; I’ll be honest, I saw her name in the credits and thought there would be a little humor, but nope, not so much. Alden and Tye are believable as friends, though I didn’t totally buy them as soldiers, which actually makes Murphy’s fate and Bartle’s PTSD more believable, in some ways.

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