To those who have followed America’s wars of conquest in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade closely, the story of Pat Tillman’s death is a familiar one. Shortly after the 9-11 attacks, a professional football player at the top of his game steps out of the limelight to join the military, completes one tour of duty in Iraq, and is killed during a second, in Afghanistan. At first, we’re told he died heroically leading his squad in a hillside battle against Taliban militiamen. Later, we learn that the Army’s story is a fraud, that he was killed by friendly fire from his fellow Rangers, a pointless victim of war.
Director Amir Bar-Lev’s powerful documentary, “The Tillman Story,” fleshes out the tragic arc of Pat Tillman’s life in what becomes less an anti-war movie and more the story of one indomitable family’s struggle for truth and justice in the face of arrogant indifference by our nation’s top military and civilian leaders, abetted by a cheerleading press. Think “Network,” not “Coming Home.”
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