“Sgt. Will Gardner”

“Sgt. Will Gardner” explores the lives of our nation’s veterans.

Quickly approaching two decades of continuous U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, the burden placed upon the broad shoulders of our soldiers, sailors, members of the Air Force , Marines and Coast Guard remains heavy. On any given night in America, tens of thousands of veterans remain homeless and hundreds of thousands have been diagnosed with wartime traumatic brain injuries since 2000. Using a patriotic backdrop, “Sgt. Will Gardner” delivers a shocking and unfiltered look at the challenges and setbacks facing our returning troops from the battlefield.

Written and directed by Max Martini (“13 Hours,” “Captain Phillips”), “Sgt. Will Gardner” also casts Martini in the lead role as a U.S. Army squad leader and Iraq War veteran. Suffering from a traumatic brain injury, Gardner has lost a lot: his wife and son. Now back in California, his battles continue as he tries to find the same sense of purpose he had in Iraq with his fellow soldiers. 

Silence is a killer, and therefore, Gardner must talk to someone about his suffering. Meanwhile, horrible memories from downrange haunt the man trying to get back on his feet. 

Eventually, Martini’s Gardner must say goodbye to his best friend while embarking on a motorcycle journey that may perhaps put his life back together. “Sgt. Will Gardner” strikes a patriotic and respectful tone to these soldiers. It pulls no punches in describing the difficulties and sacrifices these military families have made in America’s longest war.

The film’s greatest asset is its ability to pound home a truthful look at the problems facing our veterans, who still have faith in our country, and want to remain proud and stand tall. 

 “Sgt. Will Gardner” is an eye-opening account of the heavy price paid for freedom. Rightfully, it will shake the soul of a grateful nation remiss in providing help for all veterans. Not all veterans return to hospitals and cemeteries. Others walk among us. 

“Sgt. Will Gardner” is available this Friday, Jan. 11 in select theaters nationwide and on Video On Demand. The film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on Feb. 19.

To the warriors!

Grade: A

“Sgt. Will Gardner” is not rated and has a running time of 2 hours and 5 minutes. 

Patrick King is a resident of Tucson and writer for the Reel Brief movie blog at www.reelbrief.com.  Email him at reelbriefmoviereviews@mail.com.

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