One of the films kicking off the New Year is “SGT. Will Gardner,” which hits theaters and video on demand this Friday.
The movie marks the directorial debut of actor Max Martini (“13 Hours,” “The Unit”), who also wrote the picture and plays the lead.
Martini (pictured above left) has gathered quite a cast for his first time behind the camera. “SGT. Will Gardner” features performances from Gary Sinise, Robert Patrick, Dermot Mulroney, Omari Hardwick, Elizabeth Rohm, and Lily Rabe.
If that cast is not enough to entice viewers into seeking out the flick, “Will Gardner” is also donating 30 percent of its profits to three charities that help struggling veterans.
Those charities are Warriors Heart, the Gary Sinise Foundation, and Higher Ground.
Martini’s film isn’t just supporting veteran charities, either — it’s a story about veterans.
Will Gardner (Martini) is an Iraq war veteran struggling to rejoin the civilian world. Needing to put his life back together and reconnect with his son, Gardner sets out on a cross-country motorcycle ride that will bring him face-to-face with a variety of other veterans and his own problems.
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“The beautiful thing about our project is that everybody that was involved … from the cast all the way to the crew and to the producing team, everyone is so passionate about the subject matter,” Martini told YouTuber Belle Gaudreau about “Gardner” in December.
Martini said it was trips to Iraq and Afghanistan that inspired him to write the script. The actor was visiting the countries and American troops while the military-themed show “The Unit” was airing between 2006 and 2009.
“It was impactful,” said Martini of the trips. The “Sabotage” star said he befriended an Army Ranger at one point whose struggle to reintegrate into society inspired the actor to take on “Gardner.” As an artist, he felt he could use his voice to help spread awareness and to show a way forward for veterans who have struggled — and also to raise money for veteran charities.
“It also leaves the audience with … a broader understanding of what our service people are going through — some of them — [and] also inspires people to give back.”
Martini said he also wants his film to inspire people to get more involved.
“The movie still is a film and it still is entertaining,” said Martini.
“But it also leaves the audience with … a broader understanding of what our service people are going through — some of them — [and] also inspires people to give back.”
Check out the trailer for “SGT. Will Gardner” below:
“SGT. Will Gardner” hits video on demand and select theaters on January 11.