It’s not surprising that Joel Schumacher would elect to make a low-budget flick like Tigerland. After he was practically ostracized from Hollywood for destroying the Batman franchise, the director did the smart thing and stayed out of the spotlight for a little while. He bounced back with the gritty and violent thriller 8mm, which was refreshingly free of sentiment, and with Tigerland, Schumacher earns the right to call himself a filmmaker once again. Set in the early ’70s, Tigerland, which refers to a training camp on the outskirts of the battle, follows several recruits as they’re exposed to a practice version of the real-life conflict – including Colin Farrell’s Roland Bozz. Tigerland is exceedingly familiar – from its well-worn story to the various stereotypical characters – but with a story like this, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most war movies of this ilk, in which we see recruits of different backgrounds getting acclimatized to their new settings, often rely on what works, and Tigerland is no different – as the film introduces the viewer to a variety of cliched personas. But the heart of Tigerland is Farrell’s relationship with his surroundings, which seems to waver between hatred and grim acceptance. This is a guy who knows how to work the system (such as when he manages to secure an early release for a homesick cadet) as well as he knows how to push just the right buttons on his superiors. And though the rest of the cast consists mostly of the stereotypical characters you might expect, Cole Hauser pops up late in the film and makes quite an impact. As a grizzled and somewhat bitter soldier, Hauser brings some much-needed intensity to the film. Tigerland is ultimately an effective look at the training process that recruits have to endure, but never quite catches fire or becomes the searing expose that director Schumacher presumably intended.

**1/2 out of ****

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