The latest effort from Neil Burger (The Illusionist) is about Iraqi War army folks on a hiatus of sorts is not really the kind of war movie one may expect.
Starring Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins, and Michael Pena, The Lucky Ones is propelled much by happenstance and a bit by plot finagling. But, the main characters and their "stories" often compensate for its tonal shifting, perhaps working best in its more humorous disposition.
A road-trip develops with much doubt awaiting three soldiers who've had a tour of duty in Iraq. It's heart is in the right place though a blue-collar way with strangers even as it labors to some degree of poignancy.
McAdams's Colee (a private whose slightly maimed) is to drop in on her late boyfriend's parents with his cherished guitar with the intention of staying with them before returning to active duty in a month. Pena's TK plans to see his girlfriend on the West Coast, though he'd like to get rid of the dysfunction he has due to a shapnel injury. And, Robbins' middle-age Cheaver plans to return to normal life in St. Louis with his wife after finishing his service.
A domestic flight blackout has the unlikely trio renting a car to go to Missouri, after which Colee (able to instigate a barroom fracas) and TK will head toward their destinations. Each gradually lets down their guard, with each having pride and individual heartfeltness, even as it relates to them as soldiers.
Their journeys take a turn after Cheaver gets some strong news upon arriving home. Quite an escapade unfolds as the go to Las Vegas from Denver that involves a congregation and some wicked weather.
The way Burger handles the troubles in Iraq versus domestic difficulties isn't as convincing and elegant as one might expect given his previous film. However, McAdams is appealing as someone pretty good at solving others' problems. Pena etches out someone destined to settle down, and Robbins nicely understates an ordinary guy who has to make some big choices.
The Lucky Ones is a blue-class drama that is more humorous than touching.