Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor, thank you Universe!) is attempting to get into Iraq hoping that there he will come across a huge story that will finally catapult him out of obscurity after he discovers his wife has been sleeping with his one armed employer.
While sitting in the bar of his hotel trying to plan a way into Iraq, Bob befriends Lyn Cassady (An always delightful, charismatic George Clooney). Bob recognizes Lyn’s name from a previous interview he has done regarding physics being used as trackers. Lyn then begins to fill Bob in on what his special talents are and that he was trained under an elite squad of soldiers who were trained to experiment with psychic powers and the paranormal. Some of these special powers that were being honed were numerous, from being able to visualize an object in its exact location, attempting to become invisible, experimenting with drugs, and various other unorthodox combat methods. Lyn is on a mission that has brought him out of retirement, what that mission is, we do not know yet however Bob is so intrigued and truly believes that there is a story somewhere in this that he tags along with Lyn into Iraq.
Along the journey, Lyn tells Bob of the New Earth Army which ironically, called its members “Jedi’s” and of the New Earth Army’s founder, Bill Django (Jeff Bridges, who’s Bill character is vaguely reminiscent of his Big Lebowski character, Dude). We are then shown the history of New Earth with vignette’s of Lyn and Bill’s time in New Earth Army showcasing some of the tests and experiments, as well as the introduction to Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey as kind of a complete #*@hole – which let’s face it, he always seems to pull off well) who quickly collapses New Earth by doing some scary testing of his own (spiking an army general’s water with LSD then blinding him with strobe lights making the general go crazy and shoot himself) and how Lyn discovered he can kill a goat, just by starring at it (which he does unintentionally).
Let me just say that there is so much reference to the “Jedi’s” and “The Force”, that I was half expecting Yoda to walk out any moment and Ewan McGregor to ripe out his Lightsaber, which would have been fine actually as I enjoyed this movie so much more then the Star Wars Prequels!
This film is loosely based on a non-fiction book which actually accounts the army’s research into physiological warfare and if you find yourself even remotely interested in this sort of thing, I would also check out a less known movie, Suspect Zero with Ben Kingley, which is definitely more dramatic. Men Who Stare is more of a movie that slightly makes fun of that research and the Army’s experiments however still has a great message (There is a nice little speech given by Lyn that until you find your destiny, you will always be fighting the current and that when you do find it, the river will carry you seamlessly toward it…)
I quite enjoyed this movie once I actually got into the theatre (it was a cheap night and the theatre ran out of popcorn which made us miss about the first 5 minutes of the film!). It was extremely funny, had some wonderful moments and had the right amount of action to keep it humming along.