Mending the Line
by George Wolf
Mending the Line certainly has its heart in the right place. It gives us wounded warriors and grieving souls, all finding some peace for battered psyches through the Zen of fly fishing.
There are some beautiful and serene Montana landscapes, and a message of caring respect that’s easy to get behind.
It’s also smart to get behind it, because anything in front of that message is in the path of some dramatic box-checking with little thought of subtlety.
Marine Sgt. John Colter (Sinqua Walls from the recent White Men Can’t Jump remake and next week’s The Blackening) is making good progress on recovering physically from a deadly firefight in Afghanistan. “Colt”‘s mental state is more fragile, as he’s plagued by memories of losing good men on their final tour before coming home.
Their final tour. And Colt’s best friend in the Corps was about to be married. And Colt was to be the Best Man.
Colt wants to get back to the front lines asap, but his V.A. Dr. (Patricia Heaton) isn’t sure his head is right, so she sends him to see old Ike Fletcher for fly fishing lessons.
Ike (Bryan Cox) is a battle-scarred Vet himself, and begrudgingly puts Colt through some Mr. Miyagi-approved training while Colt gets to know the locals. There’s Lucy (Perry Mattfeld), who’ still mourning the loss of her fiancé, while Harrison (Wes Studi) is the requisite best friend who needles Ike about what an old coot he is before imparting a nugget of wisdom and walking off.
The cast is fine, and director Joshua Caldwell follows up the in-your-face cliche fest of his Infamous with a appropriately gentler hand, but Stephen Camelio’s debut screenplay offers more good intention than authentic emotion.
Pivotal changes of heart land suddenly without being earned, while the heavy-handed plot turns walk hand in hand with Bill Brown’s paint-by-melodramatic-numbers score.
Veterans care, survivor’s guilt and life after trauma are worthy issues, and Mending the Line wants badly to respect those involved and provide enlightenment for the conversation.
The respect is never in doubt, but the conversation ends up treading water.