Coming to DVD from writer/director Max Martini and Cinedigm comes the story of a man who has seen war and forgot his life in “Sgt. Will Gardner.”
Will “Ghost” Gardner (Max Martini) is a man struggling with life after his time in the military. After an explosion kills his close friend Samuel “Top” Gallegos (Omari Hardwick) and causes brain injury, he leaves his life behind to wander the streets.
As the years pass, Ghost realizes he must get back into life and makes his way to see his young son. Along the way he meets Mary Anne (Lily Rabe), who accidentally mistakes him for a famous actor. The two get to know one another and discover they are both lost in the big world.
After reconnecting with his young son Will Jr. (Leo Martini), he sees his ex-wife Kimmy (Elisabeth Rohm) and new husband Buddy (Dermot Mulroney). She explains what happened with her life when Ghost went off to war, and it is what they both needed to move forward.
Ghost takes one step forward and four steps back trying to find his way in a world that doesn’t see him nor do they see his injury. Relationships are held together by a thread, friendships are so difficult to maintain and sanity walks on the edge of what he wants his world to be.
This is his story, but it is also the story of so many.
Martini as Ghost is a man who cannot seem to find his way clear of the war. He wants so much to have the life he once knew, but the trauma gets in the way. The emotional battle inside takes a piece of him little by little to the point where he cannot see his way clearly. For every two steps forward he slides a little back, yet there is something inside him that refuses to stay down. That is his saving grace!
Hardwick as Top has become the conscience that Ghost doesn’t want to listen to. Always with him, Top is a constant reminder of where they have been together. Hardwick gives a performance of a friend that offers strength and courage and we should all be so blessed to have a friend that makes that kind of impact in our lives.
Rabe as Mary Anne is a woman who is also looking for something that isn’t exactly what she expects. Ghost does take advantage of that for a bit, but Rabe — as we all know from “American Horror Story” — can give as good as she takes.
A shout out to Luis Bordonada as Charlie Burroughs as a vet who seems to be a target for every person with big-man-syndrome. Even when he goes against Ghost, he discovers that there is someone else out there who understands the fear and pain of war. Bordonada is a bit of the missing piece for Ghost that can create a new path for them both.
Gary Sinise makes an appearance as Larry, and anytime he shows up in a film it is an experience — but every time he shows up in a film for vets it makes me love him even more. Dedicated to supporting veterans, Sinise has become a recognizable face for the cause of our active, wounded and retired service members.
Other cast include: JoBeth Williams as Sherry, Holt McCallany as Officer Callahan, Justin Tucker as Farnsworth, Matthew Velez as Morley, Georgina Lighting as Emily Saunders and Jay DeMarcus as Top Gunner.
Cinedigm is a leading distributor of amazing content in storefronts, digital platforms, Internet and demand platforms for cable television. With an extensive library of more than 52,000 films and television shows, docurama films, next-gen indies and independent films. At its inception, Cinedigm has played a pioneering role in transitioning movie theaters from traditional film prints to digital distribution to advance worldwide cinema modernization. For more on what Cinedigm has to offer, go to www.cinedigm.com.
Martini has pledged that 30 percent of the film’s proceeds will go to charities that help soldiers with homelessness, post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury such as the character Ghost suffers from.
“Sgt. Will Gardner” is an amazing film in that it is simple, straight forward and only a glimpse inside the lives of wounded service members. Tough as nails on one hand and spiritually tired on the other, this film shows that Ghost wants what everyone else wants — a simple life, love of family and to be of help to others.
The reality for all who serve is, “Although it is impossible to gauge accurately, the findings estimate approximately 50,000 veterans are still homeless on any given night in the United States of America. A recent DoD report states that 383,947 veterans have been diagnosed with war related traumatic brain injuries (TBI) since the year 2000. In 2015, a VA Inspector General’s report revealed that 307,000 veterans died while awaiting pending healthcare claims. The VA National Suicide Data Report claims that the average number of veterans who die by suicide each day remains unchanged at 20” — leave no man behind!
It is stirring to see, rough to feel and real enough to take in what is happening to our veterans after serving our country.
In the end — sometimes the battle follows you home!