Last year brought a number of war-themed films to theaters. The vast majority of these films were somehow connected to the Iraq War. (Is that the right way to refer to it? Has it been given an "official" name that will be used in the text books of the future?). Charlie Wilson's War is the only one that was not directly connected, although there is still a very palpable connection between its events set in the 1980s and present day.
By and large, all of the directly connected films failed to ignite the box office. The audience has spoken, and they do not want to see movies based on a conflict that is going on right now, regardless of which side of the issue you fall on. One by one they fell — In the Valley of Elah, The Kingdom, Rendition, Lions for Lambs, A Mighty Heart, all falling victim to an uninterested public, not to mention the next one set to be ignored, Stop Loss. That brings me to a pair of films that did not get the chance the aforementioned titles were afforded. One of those films is Brian DePalma's Redacted, the other is the film that sparked this current train of thought, Home of the Brave.
Why these films were not given much of an opportunity by audiences can be debated to the end of time. Whatever the truth is, we will never know, not completely anyway. Redacted was received with vastly mixed notice following its winning the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Some described the film as incendiary and DePalma was cheered for his audacity, while others thought the film was amateurish and not terribly insightful. It was never given a chance at a wide audience, with a release that reached 15 screens, total.
Home of the Brave is not nearly as divisive as Redacted; it even has some star power behind it, yet its widest release was 44 theaters with a box office totaling less than $52,000 domestic. Why was this? Why was this film not given a chance to gain an audience? I mean, this was prior to the flops mentioned earlier (with the possible exception of The Kingdom, which was more concerned with action than politics). When you compare Home of the Brave to the flops, in terms of box office, it makes those other films look like Titanic.