REVIEW: DAYS OF GLORY (AKA Indigènes)

Starring

Jamel Debbouze (360)
Samy Naceri (Taxi 2)
Roschdy Zem (The Cold Light of Day)
Bernard Blancan (Boyhood Loves)
Assaad Bouab (Zadig)
Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds)

Jamel Debbouze and Aurélie Eltvedt in Indigènes (2006)In French North Africa in 1943 large numbers of men from France’s overseas possessions have been recruited into the French First Army of the Free French Forces to fight alongside the other Allies against Nazi Germany and liberate France from occupation. The army consists of two main elements: pieds-noirs, that is people of mostly European descent, and indigènes, those of mostly African descent. The “indigènes” in turn consist of three main groups: Algerians, Moroccans (known as goumiers), and troops from Sub-Sahara Africa. Saïd, an impoverished goat herder, joins the 7th RTA (Régiment de Tirailleurs Algériens). With him are other Algerians including Messaoud, who wants to marry and settle in France, and the literate Corporal Abdelkader, who seeks equality with settlers for the indigenous people of his country. There are also two Moroccan brothers Yassir and Larbi, Yassir’s aim being booty so that Larbi can afford to marry.Sami Bouajila, Jamel Debbouze, and Roschdy Zem in Indigènes (2006)Soon the men, dressed in mostly lend-lease American uniforms meet Sergeant Martinez, a battle-hardened pied-noir, who trains them before leading them on their first engagement against the Germans in Italy. Their mission is to capture a heavily-defended mountain, but it soon becomes clear that their white commanding officer is using them as cannon fodder to identify artillery targets. The colonial troops eventually succeed, at the cost of high casualties. When asked by a French war correspondent about his thoughts on the losses, the white colonel replies, “today was a great victory for the Free French Forces”. The troops of the 7th RTA next embark for Operation Dragoon, to liberate the south of France. While aboard ship, a white cook refuses to give tomatoes to black soldiers. Abdelkader calls for equality, but mutiny is averted when Martinez and the company captain promise that everyone will be treated the same. On arrival at Marseille, the colonial troops are greeted as heroes. Messaoud meets and courts Irène, a French woman, promising when the regiment leaves that he will write and one day return. She says she’ll wait for him and they will marry. However, due to censorship of soldiers’ mail, Irène never learns Messaoud’s fate.Sami Bouajila and Jamel Debbouze in Indigènes (2006)Saïd becomes Martinez’s orderly, for which the other soldiers call him “girlie” and imply he’s gay. Eventually he snaps and holds a knife to Messaoud’s throat. Abdelkader calms the situation, but Saïd makes it clear that in this segregated world the French authorities will not give their colonial soldiers anything. Having seen among Martinez’s possessions a family photograph, while drinking with the sergeant Saïd mentions that the two of them are similar in both having an Arab mother. The NCO attacks him and threatens to kill him if he reveals this secret. The colonial troops discover that, while they are not granted leave, white members of the Free French Forces are allowed trips home. Eventually the men are told they will be going home, but it’s a ruse; instead, they are billeted behind the lines and given a ballet performance. Bored and disillusioned, most leave the tent and hold a meeting outside decrying the injustice. Martinez challenges the group, led by Abdelkader, and a fight starts.Sami Bouajila, Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, and Roschdy Zem in Indigènes (2006)Early next morning, French military police bring Messaoud to a temporary stockade where Abdelkader is also being held. Messaoud says he was arrested for trying to go back to Marseille and find Irène. Abdelkader is brought before the white colonel who tells him that he needs him to go on a special mission: to take ammunition to American troops fighting in the Lorraine Campaign and also be the first French troops to liberate Alsace. The white officer promises that Abdelkader and the other colonial soldiers will get the rewards and recognition that success in this operation will bring. Later, the white company captain tells the corporal that the colonel will keep his word. Most of the men are killed by a booby trap, including Yassir’s brother, as they cross the German lines, and Martinez is severely injured. The survivors mostly want to go back, but Abdelkader rallies them to push on. Eventually the corporal, Saïd, Messaoud, Yassir and the wounded Martinez reach an Alsatian village. Over the next few days the soldiers ingratiate themselves into the area and Saïd befriends a milkmaid. A battle begins when a unit of Germans arrives, and everyone except Abdelkader is killed. Messaoud is badly hurt by a Panzerschreck rocket and then shot by a German rifleman. Saïd attempts to evacuate Martinez, but they are both shot by the Panzerschreck, killing Saïd and further wounding Martinez, who is quickly finished off. Abdelkader and Yassir attempt to flee, but Yassir is shot in the back by a German. However, just as the corporal is cornered, more colonial troops arrive and drive the Germans out of the village.Sami Bouajila, Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, and Roschdy Zem in Indigènes (2006)As columns of Free French forces begin to move through the area, Abdelkader sees the colonel passing in his jeep, but the white commanding officer ignores him and he is pulled away by a staff officer who asks him where his unit is. When Abdelkader says they are all dead, he is simply assigned to another white NCO. As he walks out of the village, he passes a film cameraman filming only white troops standing by the liberated villagers. The movie then moves to the present day. An elderly Abdelkader goes to a war cemetery in Alsace to visit the graves of his comrades: Martinez, Saïd, Yassir and Messaoud. He then returns to his small rundown flat in modern-day France. The film concludes with the caption that from 1959 pensions for servicemen from France’s overseas possessions living in France enjoyed no increases after the date their country of origin became independent.The movie takes the viewer on a trip back to the second world war, showing how parts of the Arabic population fought with the French colonists for their freedom, against Nazi Germany trying to occupy Africa. As the movie evolves, other aspects than the fight for freedom and the brutality of war emerges. The viewer is reminded that the the social identity of the white bourgeoisie class and the stereotypes that follows not emerged with the current world of terrorism. Questions of power, humanity, religion, racism, love and honour follows the viewer through this exciting, emotional and realistic movie. Along with the plot and acting in this piece of work, the critical viewer should be satisfied.

REVIEW: CROSS OF HONOUR (aka INTO THE WHITE)

Starring

Stig Henrik Hoff (The Thing)
David Kross (Boy 7)
Florian Lukas (The Polar Bear)
Lachlan Nieboer (Checkmate)
Rupert grint (Harry Potter)
Kim Haugen (Buddy)

Stig Henrik Hoff in Into the White (2012)On 27 April 1940, a Luftwaffe Heinkel He 111 bomber (1H+CT) is pursued near Grotli by a Fleet Air Arm Blackburn Skua (L2940) fighter. Three of the four German crew survive the crash: pilot Leutnant Horst Schopis (Florian Lukas), Unteroffizier Josef Schwartz (David Kross) and Feldwebel Wolfgang Strunk (Stig Henrik Hoff). They prepare then set off for the coast to rejoin the fighting. A snowstorm develops. They loose their supplies and encounter a hunter’s cabin. Two British airmen from the other downed aircraft, Capt. Charles P. Davenport (Lachlan Nieboer) and his air gunner Robert Smith (Rupert Grint), are heard to approach the cabin. They start to deal with each other in the cabin. An attempt in the morning, to set out for help, is abandoned when they start to get separated by the snowstorm.Rupert Grint, Stig Henrik Hoff, Florian Lukas, and Lachlan Nieboer in Into the White (2012)Norwegian soldiers set out as a patrol to look for the downed German airmen. They encounter Smith and Strunk skiing downhill. A Norwegian sniper fatally shoots Strunk and captures Smith. Portside, a Norwegian officer interrogates the Brits perceiving them collaborators. Davenport explains what happened and silences the interrogating officer. Shopis and Schwartz are prisoners of war in Canada; Smith and Davenport return to combat action. Davenport survives the war.Florian Lukas, David Kross, and Lachlan Nieboer in Into the White (2012)I really liked this movie. It doesn’t attempt to be a Hollywood blockbuster or anything like that. Just a good, smart, watchable film.

 

 

REVIEW: 12 STRONG

Starring

Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Michael Peña (Ant-Man)
Navid Negahban (Homeland)
Trevante Rhodes (The Predator)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Geoff Stults (The Finder)
Thad Luckinbill (La La Land)
Ben O’Toole (Hacksaw Ridge)
Kenny Sheard (John Wick 2)
Elsa Pataky (Fast & Furious 8)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Taylor Sheridan (Veronica Mars)

Chris Hemsworth in 12 Strong (2018)Mitch Nelson, a US Army Captain with Green Berets Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 595, is moving into a new home with his wife and daughter on September 11, 2001, after receiving an assignment to staff duty under LTCol. Bowers. As news of the devastating terrorist attacks that day break, Nelson volunteers to lead 595 into Afghanistan. Bowers initially refuses, but veteran soldier CW5 Hal Spencer, previously scheduled to retire, persuades Bowers to give Nelson command of 595 again, as well as volunteering himself for the deployment. After leaving their families, 595 travels to Uzbekistan on October 7, 2001. After being briefed and evaluated by COL Mulholland, Commander of 5th Special Forces Group, Nelson and 595 are picked to fight alongside Northern Alliance leader Abdul Rashid Dostum.ODA 595 is inserted covertly in Afghanistan aboard an MH-47 Chinook flown by 160th SOAR. They land 40 miles south of Mazar-i Sharif, the country’s fourth-largest city and a longtime stronghold of the Taliban, where they meet Dostum. Six of the 12 members, led by Nelson, leave with Dostum to the mountains, while the other six remain in a fortified camp nicknamed “The Alamo” under Spencer’s command. Dostum is attempting to capture the northern Afghanistan city, while battling Taliban leader Mullah Razzan, who rules local communities brutally under strict Sharia law, and has murdered several people, including Dostum’s family.Chris Hemsworth in 12 Strong (2018)Although the warlord is initially skeptical of Nelson’s abilities, Nelson gradually earns Dostum’s respect. In one battle, however, Dostum makes a tactical error, costing several casualties. Nelson accuses Dostum of acting carelessly with the lives of his men and of withholding valuable information, while Dostum retorts that he still feels that Nelson, and the U.S., is not willing to pay the potential price of the conflict, and tells Nelson that he needs to use his heart and mind to “be a warrior” instead of a soldier. The two eventually reconcile, and, after splitting off a three-man element under SFC Sam Diller to strike a Taliban supply route, and being joined by Spencer’s half of ODA 595, continue to work together. They win several victories with Dostum’s leadership and manpower and American airpower, making significant progress towards Mazar-i Sharif. Suddenly, however, Spencer informs Nelson that another ODA, 555, has been dispatched to support Atta Muhammad, another Northern Alliance leader, who is Dostum’s political rival. When Nelson is forced to tell Dostum, the furious warlord and his men promptly abandon 595.Following Dostum’s departure, Nelson plans to continue operating against the Taliban with his Americans and the few Afghan fighters remaining with them. Encountering a large force of Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters and armored vehicles, ODA 595, rejoined by Diller and his element, uses air support to eliminate many of the fighters and most of the armor, but are discovered and attacked. Spencer is critically injured by a suicide bomber, and the team is about to be overrun under heavy Taliban and Al-Qaeda pressure when Dostum returns with his forces. Carrying out the US Army’s first cavalry charge of the 21st century, the American and Northern Alliance forces disperse the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and Dostum tracks down and kills Razzan. After Spencer is medevaced, Nelson and Dostum continue to Mazar-i-Sharif but find Atta Muhammad has beaten them there. Against expectations, Dostum and Muhammad meet peacefully and put aside their differences. Impressed by Nelson and the Americans’ efforts, Dostum gives Nelson his prized riding crop and tells him that he will always consider Nelson a brother and fellow fighter but remember that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires. Spencer ultimately survives, and all 12 soldiers of ODA 595 return home after 23 days of almost continuous fighting in Afghanistan.The film’s penultimate moment shows a photo of the Horse Soldier Statue in New York City, based on the soldiers of ODA 595 and their victory in the early stages of the response to the September 11th attacks, dedicated to all United States Special Forces. The film then ends with a photo of the actual members of ODA 595, in combat fatigues, upon whom 12 Strong was based.Chris Hemsworth in 12 Strong (2018)Perhaps not the best war movie ever made and a bit predictable, but a truly well done and well acted insight into the first response to 9/11. Yes we win. Guess what? We won in real life too. It’s about the journey not the well known destination. It’s a ride, on horseback. Enjoy it for what it is. The

REVIEW: HACKSAW RIDGE

Starring

Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Vince Vaughn (The Internship)
Sam Worthington (Avatar)
Luke Bracey (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)
Hugo Weaving (Mortal Engines)
Ryan Corr (Wolf Creek 2)
Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies)
Rachel Griffiths (Saving Mr. Banks)
Richard Roxburgh (Mission: Impossible 2)
Luke Pegler (Home and Away)
Richard Pyros (Noise)
Ben Mingay (Home and Away)
Firass Dirani (Power Rangers Mystic Force)
Matt Nable (Arrow)
Robert Morgan (Suburban Mayhem)
Nathaniel Buzolic (The Originals)

Andrew Garfield and Luke Bracey in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)In rural 1920s Virginia, the young Desmond Doss nearly kills his little brother Hal while roughhousing. This event and his Seventh-day Adventist upbringing reinforce Desmond’s belief in the commandment “Thou shalt not kill”. Years later, Doss takes an injured man to the hospital and meets a nurse, Dorothy Schutte. The two strike a romance and Doss tells Dorothy of his interest in medical work. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Doss enlists in the Army to serve as a combat medic. His father Tom, a World War I veteran, is deeply upset by the decision. Before leaving for Fort Jackson, Desmond asks for Dorothy’s hand in marriage and she accepts.Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)Doss is placed in basic training under the command of Sergeant Howell. He excels physically, but becomes an outcast among his fellow soldiers for refusing to handle a rifle and train on Saturdays. Howell and Captain Glover attempt to discharge Doss for psychiatric reasons under Section 8 but are overruled, as Doss’ religious beliefs do not constitute mental illness. They subsequently torment Doss by putting him through grueling labor, intending to get Doss to leave of his own accord. Despite being beaten one night by his fellow soldiers, he refuses to identify his attackers and continues training.Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)Doss’ unit completes basic training and is released on leave, during which Doss intends to marry Dorothy, but his refusal to carry a firearm leads to an arrest for insubordination. Captain Glover and Dorothy visit Doss in jail and try to convince him to plead guilty so that he can be released without charge, but Doss refuses to compromise his beliefs. At his court-martial Doss pleads not guilty, but before he is sentenced, his father barges into the tribunal with a letter from his former commanding officer (now a brigadier general) stating that his son’s pacifism is protected by the U.S. Constitution. The charges against Doss are dropped, and he and Dorothy are married.Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)Doss’ unit is assigned to the 77th Infantry Division and deployed to the Pacific theater. During the Battle of Okinawa, Doss’ unit is informed that they are to relieve the 96th Infantry Division, which was tasked with ascending and securing the Maeda Escarpment (“Hacksaw Ridge”). During the initial fight, with heavy losses on both sides, Doss saves the life of his squadmate Smitty, earning his respect. As the Americans camp for the night, Doss reveals to Smitty that his aversion to holding a firearm stems from nearly shooting his drunken father, who threatened his mother with a gun. Smitty apologizes for doubting his courage, and the two reconcile.Richard Pyros, Ben Mingay, Andrew Garfield, and Goran D. Kleut in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)The next morning, the Japanese launch a massive counterattack and drive the Americans off the escarpment. Smitty is killed, while Howell and several of Doss’ squad mates are left injured on the battlefield. Doss hears the cries of dying soldiers and returns to save them, carrying the wounded to the cliff’s edge and belaying them down by rope, each time praying to save one more. The arrival of dozens of wounded once presumed dead comes as a shock to the rest of the unit below. When day breaks, Doss rescues Howell and the two escape Hacksaw under enemy fire.Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)Captain Glover tells Doss that they are scheduled to retake the ridge on Saturday and will not launch the next attack without him. Doss agrees but the operation is delayed until after he concludes his Sabbath prayers. With reinforcements, they turn the tide of battle. After an ambush set by Japanese soldiers feigning surrender, Doss manages to save Glover and others by deflecting enemy grenades. Doss is eventually wounded by a grenade blast, but the battle is won. Doss descends the cliff, clutching the Bible Dorothy gave him.Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)The film switches to archival photos and footage showing that Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman for rescuing 75 soldiers at Hacksaw Ridge. Doss stayed married to Dorothy until her death in 1991. He died on March 23, 2006, at the age of 87.Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)Overall, Hacksaw Ridge is a film that will leave audiences in state of emotion that describes the horrors of war, the bravery of Doss and his army and a sense of thankfulness to our past ancestors who had lived in a time to fight for freedom and peace when the world was divided. A

REVIEW: THE HURT LOCKER

CAST
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Anthony Mackie (Million Dollar Baby)
Brian Geraghty (When A Stranger Calls)
Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
David Morse (The Rock)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man)
The Hurt Locker opens with a quotation from War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, a best-selling 2002 book by Chris Hedges, a New York Times war correspondent and journalist: “The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”
Sergeant First Class William James (Jeremy Renner), a battle-tested veteran, arrives as a new team leader of a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit in the Iraq War,replacing Staff Sergeant Matthew Thompson (Guy Pearce), who was killed by a radio-controlled 155mm improvised explosive device (IED) in Baghdad. His team includes Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty).
James’ maverick methods and attitude lead Sanborn and Eldridge to consider him reckless, and tensions mount. When they are assigned to destroy some explosives in a remote desert area, James returns to the detonation site to pick up his gloves. Sanborn openly contemplates killing James by “accidentally” triggering the explosion, making Eldridge very uncomfortable, but Sanborn does nothing.
Returning to Camp Victory in their Humvee, the team encounters five armed men in traditional Arab garb standing near the men’s Ford Excursion, which has a flat tire. After a tense encounter, the men reveal themselves to be private military contractors and British mercenaries. They have captured two prisoners featured on the most-wanted Iraqi playing cards. The entire group suddenly comes under fire, and when the prisoners attempt to escape in the confusion, the leader of the mercenaries (Ralph Fiennes) remembers the bounty for them is “dead or alive” and shoots them. Enemy snipers kill three of the mercenaries, including the leader. Sanborn and James borrow a Barrett .50 cal to dispatch three attackers, while Eldridge kills a fourth.
During a raid on a warehouse, James discovers the body of a young boy, in which a live bomb has been surgically implanted. James believes it to be “Beckham” (Christopher Sayegh), an Iraqi youth he had previously befriended. During evacuation, Lieutenant Colonel John Cambridge (Christian Camargo), the camp’s psychiatrist and a friend of Eldridge’s, is killed in an explosion; Eldridge blames himself for the Colonel’s death. Later, James leaves the military compound seeking revenge for Beckham and breaks into the house of an Iraqi professor, but his search reveals nothing and he leaves.
Called to a petrol tanker detonation, James decides on his own to hunt for the insurgents responsible, guessing they are still in the immediate area. Sanborn protests, but when James heads out, he and Eldridge reluctantly follow. After they split up, insurgents capture Eldridge. James and Sanborn rescue him, but accidentally shoot him in the leg. The following morning, James is approached by Beckham, who James believed was dead. The young boy tries to play soccer with James and sell him more DVDs, but the soldier walks by without saying a word. Before being airlifted for surgery elsewhere, Eldridge angrily blames James for his injury.
James and Sanborn’s unit is called to another mission in their last two days of their rotation. An innocent Iraqi civilian man has had a bomb vest strapped to his chest. James tries to cut off the locks to remove the vest, but there are too many to undo in the time available before the bomb will detonate. He has to abandon the man, who is killed when the bomb explodes. Sanborn is left distraught by the man’s death. He confesses to James that he can no longer cope with the pressure, and he wants to return home and have a son.
After Bravo Company’s rotation ends, James returns home to his ex-wife, Connie (Evangeline Lilly) and their infant son who both still live with him in his house. However, he is bored and disconnected from routine civilian life, with its ordinary tasks of shopping at the supermarket and family dinners. One night, James confesses to his son that there is only one thing that he knows he loves. Shortly thereafter, he starts another tour of duty serving with Delta Company, U.S. Army EOD unit as they are starting their 365-day rotation.
Fully deserving of its Oscar and BAFTA awards Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker is an ambitious, intelligent, unsentimental attempt to present the experience of war from the perspective of ordinary soldiers.