Man at His Best

Brad Pitt Says Netflix Took “A Big Leap, A Big, Bold Move” To Make “War Machine”

The USD60 million budget film will see the start of blockbuster films moving into streaming services.

BY sarah chong | May 31, 2017 | Film & TV

Brad Pitt at the Japan press conference for Netflix's original film "War Machine." (Photo: Netflix)

From having to buy a ticket at the cinemas, by queuing (and not through the app), to watching a film at the expense and comfort of your own living room, whenever and wherever you wish you watch it, we’ve come a long way – times really have changed.  Yet, the war of ‘streaming vs. the big screen’ will (we think) never come to an end, so we’ll take a tip from Director Roman Polanski, when he says, Netflix and other streaming services “don’t pose a basic threat” (to moviegoing). “People want to go to the movies not because of better sound, projection, or seats, but because they want to participate in an experience with an audience around. This is as old as humanity — look at Greek theaters and Roman circus or concerts.”

Brad Pitt and Ben Kingsley in War Machine (Photo: Netflix)

Netflix’s latest film War Machine is a big budget (USD60 million) satirical comedy that stars Brad Pitt (he also produced it.) The movie which takes a comical look at the absurdities of war and the politics is an adaptation of the non-fiction best-seller book, The Operators: The Wild & Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan, written by the late Michael Hastings. Directed and screenplay by David Michôd (Animal Kingdom, The Rover), the film sees Pitt playing the role of decorated U.S. general Gen. Glenn McMahon (based on Gen. Stanley McChrystal) whose over-confidence about the task at hand leads to his demise via a Rolling Stones journalist's exposé. Look out for the way he walks, the way he runs (his high-waisted shorts, especially!), and his accent. Pitt says of his character, “I think it speaks to the delusion of the character himself and he portrays himself as an emblem of greatness, when actually, he looks quite silly.” The film also stars Ben Kingsley, Topher Grace and Tilda Swinton.

Left to Right: Jeremy Kleiner (producer), David Michod (director), Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner (producer) at the Japan press conference for Netflix's original film War Machine. (Photo: Netflix)

At the Japan press conference last week, Pitt says, “Quite honestly, without a delivery system like Netflix, this movie wouldn’t have made. Or if it did get made, it would have been at one-sixth of the budget only because challenging material like this, where there is a great degree of difficulty to pull off...I guess the financial risk is really difficult for the studios to take on at this time.” Dede Gardner, one of the producers of the film also gave kudos to Netflix saying, “They are rockstars and we try and push boundaries in the stories we tell, and when you meet a company like Netflix who says “Ok we want to do that too,” and they say “We have the money for it and we’ve got the manpower to support you,” it’s like a gift from on high. I imagine it felt like making movies in the ‘70s.”

We’ve watched it, and though we don’t live in the States, or in Afghanistan, there are questions to ask here. (Slight) SPOILER: It’s not all comedy; the movie takes a serious turn towards the back. “The thing about counter-insurgency is that it doesn't really work,” the narrator in the film (Scoot McNairy), explains near the outset. “You can't build a nation at gunpoint.”

War Machine is now available to stream on Netflix.