Bunch of white guys send us to war in Vietnam

HBO has a habit of picking interesting films to produce. Path to War is an LBJ biopic focusing on the steps that brought the United States to war in Vietnam. John Frankenheimer directs a cast of strong character actors, including Alec Baldwin as Robert McNamara and Donald Sutherland as Clark Clifford. The performances are strong, and the insights on what went on behind the scenes both revealing and sometimes surprising.

So what's my reservation, which I feel pretty strong about this one? The material comes off as dry, despite the strength of feelings in the country at the time. As a documentary, Path to War would rank pretty high, but it's a dramatization, which brings a somewhat different set of responsibilities to the table. As a tale of Johnson's experiences regarding Vietnam, the film performs quite admirably. Yet the combination of detail - the film approaches three hours in length - and plot and pacing issues, makes it hard to recommend unreservedly.

Those of you with a bent toward history should watch this. The rest of you ought to be willing to take a chance if you aren't going to be put off by nearly three hours of dry material.

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