David Everitt
November 20, 1998 AT 05:00 AM EST

A Bright Shining Lie

type
TV Show
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Eric Bogosian, Amy Madigan, Bill Paxton
genre
Drama, War

We gave it a C+

This HBO adaptation of Neil Sheehan’s nonfiction book presents the Vietnam War through the prism of military adviser John Paul Vann (Bill Paxton), a true believer who waged war against Asian communism with high-minded conviction, never quite grasping the folly and futility of America’s involvement. A Bright Shining Lie‘s scenes of warfare and political turmoil are rendered in bold, colorful strokes, but Vann himself remains a quick sketch. Both a two-faced adulterer and a tower of martial integrity, he should have been an intriguing, conflicted antihero, but Paxton’s Vann is little more than a convenient symbol for military misadventure. C+

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