starring Nicholas Hoult, Logan Marshall-Green, Glen Powell, Henry Cavill
screenplay by Chris Roessner
directed by Fernando Coimbra
by Alice Stoehr Nicholas Hoult's signature expression requires that his lips be ajar and his buckteeth be visible. The English actor then furrows or flattens his brow; narrows or widens his limpid blue eyes. It's a concise look, one that makes the most of his open, boyish face. He affects it whether flirting with his professor in A Single Man or playing the bashful Beast in the X-Men movies. That barely-open mouth can suggest uncertainty and impotence. It admits that he can neither understand nor control the world around him. Hoult assumes this expression throughout his performance as PFC Matt Ocre in Sand Castle. Ocre is fresh-faced fresh meat, too tender to handle the theatre of war in which he's abruptly immersed. ("I joined the Reserves for the college money," he explains in voiceover, a detail that screenwriter Chris Roessner plucked from his own life.) The Jordanian desert stands in for Iraq in 2003 as Ocre's platoon plows through the aftermath of the American-led invasion. Hoult's joined by hunky rising stars like Glen Powell as the macho Falvy--a far cry from his work as a pretentious ladies' man in Everybody Wants Some!!--and Logan Marshall-Green as the no-nonsense sergeant. The film follows these men as they drive from one makeshift base to another. It emphasizes their scruff, their sweat, and their loud-mouthed braggadocio. The dialogue, which oozes naturalistic profanity, is thoroughly plausible, if increasingly monotonous.