A bizarre adventure begins when a journalist befriends an ex-soldier, writes PIERCE HUNT
THE Men Who Stare at Goats takes a comedic glance at the bizarre strategies the US military implemented within one of their specific specialised units. In a series of events that are so surreal it's difficult to comprehend, it is suggested that by simply eyeballing a goat, you can stop its heart beating.
Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) feels like a fraud. After a messy split from his wife, he's desperate to be an embedded journalist in Iraq, but his romantic fantasies of war are left on the fringes of the Iraqi border in his comfortable five star hotel.
When Bob encounters Lyn Cassady (George Clooney) at the hotel bar, Lyn starts talking about how he was a part of an experimental US military unit - The New Earth Army, which was run like a hippie commune by Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) - that had psychic powers and other paranormal traits.
These incredibly bold claims encourage Bob to tag along with Lyn on his mission to to find Bill, the missing founder of the military unit.
At first, Lyn's ability to walk into any situation and come out of it unscathed begins to freak Bob out. But it soon becomes clear that Lyn is a broken man and a million miles away from the refined soldier he once was.
Unsurprisingly, the twosome's trek through the unforgiving Iraqi desert is far from straightforward, and much to their relief, they track down Bill.
Lyn's arch enemy from his army days, Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey), is now calling the shots in a new regime, with Bill among his many minions.
The new set up is a long way from the peace and love methods originally used by Bill. This is where Lyn and Larry go head-to-head once again, re-igniting old grudges.
The all-star cast make the film a modern-day classic, bringing humour and great pacing to a comedy that will be hard to match this year.
Clooney and Bridges are the true heart of the story. And you'll instantly see similarities to Bridges' character the Dude from the Coen Brothers' 1998 masterpiece The Big Lebowski.
And as far as staring at goats, Lyn truly is a master at stopping them dead in their tracks - quite literally.
If looks could actually kill, armed forces around the world would enlist the most stoney-faced gazes to stare down their enemy at every opportunity, but, as far as scientific evidence is concerned, a screwed up face fixated on a subject will struggle to do any real damage, apart from making the subject feel a little awkward.