War, What Is It Good For? Vets Question the Fight in The Good Soldier


Disconcertingly timeless is the idea that a “good” soldier is one who kills, lest he be killed. The emotional and psychological fallout from the battlefield has been at the core of countless war dramas, but Lexy Lovell and Michael Uys’s potent and wisely straightforward doc depicts a quintet of U.S. soldiers who, as their frank testimonies reveal, found their humanity among the peaceniks. All decorated veterans who fought bravely in American wars (World War II, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq), each man recounts his light-bulb moment and the moral grappling that led up to it. There are tales of hesitant suicide attempts, nonchalant responses to collateral damage, and holy-fucking-shit combat sociopathy, with inserted war footage that evokes specific details while remaining broad enough to illustrate how little changes between battles. What’s most shocking and affecting is how comfortable and eloquent each of these soldiers is in spilling their guts about the guts they’ve spilled. It’s easy to take an antiwar philosophy for granted until you see a former staff sergeant courageously walking the streets with a sign reading, “I killed innocent civilians for our government.”