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'Home of the Brave'
This particular story focuses on a National Guard unit whose members start off feeling ecstatic that they're about to be shipped home from their tours of duty without sustaining any casualties. But a mission of mercy to an Iraqi village leads them straight into a vicious ambush. As the bombs and bullets let up, one soldier named Tommy (Brian Presley) watches his best friend cut down by a sniper and another named Vanessa (Jessica Biel) loses her hand in a booby trap. Still another, named Jamal (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson) is traumatized after accidentally shooting an unarmed civilian woman.
Soon, we're back in the troopers' home front near Spokane, Wash., and one can pretty much guess how it goes for these folks from here on.
Vanessa struggles to carry out basic tasks with a prosthetic hand, Jamal struggles to communicate without blowing his top, Tommy struggles with survivor's guilt, and their onetime medic Will March (Samuel L. Jackson) struggles to get past his serial hangovers. None of them, needless to say, wants anybody else's help.
There have been documentaries on America in Iraq that dealt with such matters more trenchantly and less predictably than this TV-style melodrama. Still, just because there's nothing new to see here doesn't necessarily mean there's nothing worth seeing. As long as we have wars, we'll always have variations on "The Best Years of Our Lives."