8/10 An absolutely heartbreaking true story of a Marine Corps veteran who got screwed over by the Veteran’s Administration (VA) and goes to extreme lengths to try and get the money back that is rightfully owed to him. This is a smaller, more contained independent film that didn’t do well at the box office mainly due to a lack of marketing but don’t let the box office numbers fool you. This is a fantastic film, despite its tragic subject matter. John Boyega plays Brian Brown-Easley, the 33-year-old decorated veteran struggling with PTSD, schizophrenia and paranoia. While these conditions kept him from living a normal life, he was correct that the VA owed him money based off of a mistake they made. As a Marine veteran myself, I can attest to the VA being riddled with problems (President Trump did make some positive changes though) and many government workers do treat you as just another number. While my negative run ins were nothing like Easley’s, my heart broke watching the film because of how real it felt. This is a testimony to Boyega who gives a career best performance as well as the tight and effective script from Abi Damaris Corbin and Kwame Kwei-Armah. Corbin’s direction is well done and even though most of the film takes place in a Wells Fargo, space is utilized expertly so we feel trapped in the bank alongside Easley and his two female hostages. The film reminded me of “John Q” except this is completely true (“John Q” was inspired by a similar incident) so it was more emotional to view. The supporting actors put in great work and tragicly, this is Michael K. Williams’ final role before his death roughly one year ago. Despite the strong supporting roles, this is Boyega’s film from start to finish and I am glad to see him taking on roles like this as opposed to his garbage role in the latest “Star Wars” trilogy. There were only a couple of negative aspects but they didn’t greatly diminish the quality of the film. We get an extremely brief flashback to overseas when Easley was deployed as a Marine but it was so short and uneventful that it was completely unneeded and unnecessary. We already know he is a Marine veteran so the flashback gives us no new information. If they would have showed him sustaining his injuries, we could have gotten a better idea of what some of his mental suffering stems from so the scene feels like a lost opportunity. It would have also been nice to get a little more character development from some of the supporting players like news media personel and law enforcement, even though I understand they are not the focus of the movie. Those minor complaints aside, this is a well paced, expertly acted film that you have to be in the mood for since it is a tragedy but it tells an important story worth educating yourself about. It is a reminder that governments run things horribly (ignorant college students calling for universal, government run healthcare have never experienced it to know how horrible it is in reality) and many struggling veterans here at home need care and attention. As we continue to send billions overseas to Ukraine and many other countries while ignoring our own citizens, this is a sobering reminder of the real life consequences of war and a broken United States government.

#BreakingPurpleHearts / #SemperDie / #MajorRiddickulousResponse / #AttackTheBloke / #UnwellFargo / #FromTanksToBanks

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