Film

Pat Tillman’s story is fascinating, the movie is not

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The Details

The Tillman Story
Three stars
Directed by Amir Bar-Lev
Rated R
Beyond the Weekly
The Tillman Story
IMDb: The Tillman Story
Rotten Tomatoes: The Tillman Story

When Pat Tillman walked away from a lucrative NFL contract to fight for his country in the aftermath of 9/11, he instantly became the media’s face of American patriotism. When he was killed in the mountains of Afghanistan two years later, however, initial reports that he’d died just as heroically proved to be desperate lies. Amir Bar-Lev’s outraged documentary The Tillman Story—his first film since the masterful My Kid Could Paint That, which also examined how human-interest stories shape human lives—makes for a compelling portrait of a truly singular man (and of his equally extraordinary family, which has spent years fighting to learn the truth). But it fizzles a bit as investigative journalism, unless you’re naïve enough to be shocked by the revelation that the U.S. military’s first instinct in an embarrassing situation is to cover its ass. Tillman himself remains fascinating; the story of his tragic death and its fairly brief cover-up, much less so.

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