Contrary to popular perception, Brad Pitt is not much of a box office draw. Outside of a few films like World War Z and Mr & Mrs Smith, how many movies has he stars in are actually big successes at the box office? Yes, there was the Ocean’s series, but that was an ensemble cast and probably more to do with George Clooney than Brad Pitt. Despite his lack of box office lustre though, he is a superb actor. And an eccentric one at that, not being afraid to take on unusual roles that are probably a little too weird to be accepted by mainstream audiences.

His new movie, director David “Animal Kingdom” Michod’s original Netflix production War Machine, appears to be a more ordinary role on paper about an effort to redeem the war in Afghanistan.

I honestly love the approach Netflix has taken with this film. Turning a delicate situation into a comedy that essentially laughs at America. I thought we had the news channel for that. Pitt’s performance looks a little oddball, but actually suits the style of this movie and with a host of accomplished actors including Emory Cohen, RJ Cyler, Topher Grace, Anthony Michael Hall, Anthony Hayes, John Magaro, Scoot McNairy, Will Poulter, Alan Ruck, Lakeith Stanfield, Josh Stewart, Meg Tilly, Tilda Swinton, and Ben Kingsley all adding their own unique take on the material, this should make for a fun film to look out for.

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It’s definitely not your traditional box office type fare from Netflix, which fits in perfectly with their model and Brad Pitt’s style. War Machine is still due for limited release to the US cinema market though before its Netflix release on May 26. 2017. It’s probably a movie better suited to TV, so we’re not missing anything by not getting it at our local box office.

The full synopsis for War Machine is below:

In a film for our times, writer-director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) recreates a U.S. General’s roller-coaster rise and fall as part reality, part savage parody – raising the specter of just where the line between them lies today.  His is an anti-establishment, pro-soldier exploration in the form of an absurdist war story of a born leader’s ultra-confident march right into the dark heart of folly.  At the story’s core is Brad Pitt’s sly take on a successful, charismatic four-star general who leapt in like a rock star to command NATO forces in Afghanistan, only to be taken down by his own hubris and a journalist’s no-holds-barred expose. War Machine addresses the debt we owe to soldiers to question the purposes to which they are being directed.  

Last Updated: April 3, 2017

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Craig Risi

A man of many talents, but no sense how to use them. I could be discovering the cure for aids or finding ways to achieve world peace, but I'd rather be watching movies and writing here instead.

  • I 100% didn’t recognise Brad Pitt.. only when I started reading the article did I have to go back and check Craig wasn’t drinking this early in the morning

  • scamrasc .

    i like your article and i agree with almost all of it, but one statement caught my curiosity, so off i went for a quick bit of fact checking over at box office mojo…that helpful little site that has box office stats ready at a glimpse….(from which i have copy and pasted a fair bit, so long post ahead).

    “Brad Pitt is not much of a box office draw……the Ocean’s series, but that was an ensemble cast and probably more to do with George Clooney than Brad Pitt.”
    — i disagree with this statement for a simple reason; pitt does a lot of smaller budget, difficult to market and not meant for the mainstream (as you pointed out) yet can still potentially carry them into a few hundred million worldwide gross despite that. they’re not meant to be blockbusters, but if you swap out pitt for a lesser known actor, would films such as “moneyball” or “fury” have done as well? they were marketed solely on the back of him (given both have dire topic matter in terms of marketability, they were promoted as “brad pitt” star vehicles instead).

    but it was the clooney referrence that got me, because…..really, what other big hits has he been in?…
    see, when pitt does do more mainstream material, they’re always big hits. pitt has several films on par with the gross of the ocean’s franchise or bigger (wwz, mr & mrs smith and troy all did better than any of the ocean’s movies. even seven (unadusted gross = 327) in 1995 did similar when you factor in inflation on USD alone – which box office mojo have helpfully done, adding on an easy 100million to domestic gross ….so even without adjusting the other 2/3s of it’s total gross from international screens that puts it on par with oceans…). yet NONE of clooney’s non-oceans films can even come close to that gross………..there’s only one film in his entire filmography that did better – gravity…….the sandra bullock star vehicle in which clooney featured for roughly 10mins or so…

    in fairness to clooney, he ALSO eschews the more mainstream for the most part, but his biggest movies aside from the oceans franchise – batman and robin (238), tomorrowland (209), the perfect storm (328) – are opperating on levels closer to pitt’s middling range (benjamine button (333), inglorious basterds (321), fury (211) interview with a vampire (223)………….

    nothing against clooney, but it strikes me as remarkably odd that people (not just you) credit him with the success of the oceans’ franchise, when nothing else he’s ever done has come close to matching it?….yet pitt not only has several films in the same ball park, he has films – that he carried – that did $50-100million better….
    i like both actors and think they’re both talented, but i also think pitt has clear weight at the box office, and often IN SPITE of his stubbornly unmarketable choice of projects (especially in this modern climate of EVERYTHING needing superheros in order to make big bucks…hits outside that formula are increasingly rare. which is a shame because there’s only so many times i can watch the same bridge destroyed by cgi…).

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