by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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“Experience a gripping story that rises above politics and centers on the personal challenges of a tough, young man with an uncertain future. It’s a fascinating film you won’t soon forget.”
Mike’s main friend Jake is a loose cannon, who could very well have enlisted in the Marines himself, but I doubt he would have made the grade. He’s a bit off balanced and has a short fuse, but it all might just be a game he’s playing to make himself believe that Nick hasn’t accomplished much by leaving home and enlisting in the military.
And as the movie progresses, he and Cristina become closer and as many young kids do, they fall in love. Nick goes to meet her family and manages to get around the language barrier, as she’s a Latina. A surprise twist comes in the movie and seems to haunt Mike: a neighbor of Cristina’s has been off to Iraq and comes back home missing a leg. Mike doesn’t know this, however, when he goes to the guy’s house to just say hello, at the urging of Cristina’s mother. It must have been difficult for Mike to withstand what could very well be a situation that awaits his tour of duty. The ex-Marine wears a t-shirt that says, “I went to Iraq and all I got was crippled.” Pretty heavy stuff for a 19 year old.
Cannon plays a role in American Son that allows him to stretch his acting chops. He’s so focused and committed to his life as a new Marine that he’s determined to not let anything stand in his way.
But Nick “mans up,” as the expression goes, and anticipates what’s on the other side of the world for him, after he’s survived 96 hours in the world with which he no longer seems to identify.
Now, finally, it’s just a few hours before the bus comes to take him to situations that will undoubtedly make him a man.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.
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