Dependable, durable, reliable and weighing about 30 tonnes. A suitable fit for a Brad Pitt vehicle.

The film attempts a tonal balance between ‘War is Hell’, and ‘War is hella cool’, but ultimately ends up falling in the mud. Great fun when our jocular heroes (Pitt, Beouf, Michael Peña, Logan Lerman, and Jon Bernthal) are shooting up “Fuckin’ Nazis”, but less fun when the film points out that war is actually not so friggin’ awesome actually.

Much like Pitt’s other executively produced genre film, World War Z (2013), there isn’t much new brought to the table other than a longer running time, padded out with earnestness.

One thing that is gained through the more po-faced leanings of the film is an excellent characterisation of men gone war ugly. Good performances all round of war film  green eared recruit, fierce commander, God-fearing glasses wearing moustache man, ugly bruiser, and Mexican.

A great spread of male character standards, but this film is no place for women, and, to my memory, features one of the quickest turnarounds from the point of a hero meeting a female character, to falling deeply in love with her, to her being swiftly buffeted into the fridge.

The action sequences are excellent when they do come – Boy’s Own Adventure via Rambo via Saving Private Ryan via Inglorious Basterds. The Tank is expertly realised: a shelter from the storm and a claustrophobic nightmare at the same time. Great sound design too, with grinding gears and rolling of caterpillar tracks with lots of different ways to hear things whistling past your head.

This film would have benefitted from deciding which side of the fence it should be on, because both the serious and fun elements are well realised, but don’t sit well side by side. Otherwise a good solid war film with plenty of good action.

*SCHINK* “Wha-?” *THUD*

One of my most favorite things that can happen in a film is when a character is all, like, minding their own business when something goes *SLIKT* across the screen, and the character looks all startled going “hey what was-” and then they fall into bits.

I don’t think I explained myself very well just there. Hey! Here are some examples!

Shogun Assassin (1980)

Taking it back to 1980, and rocking one of the best soundtracks ever made, Shogun Assassin was a heavily edited compilation of the Lone Wolf and Cub series for western audiences. Amongst this veritable smorgasbord of martial arts and explicit violence, there is one particular scene where Lone Wolf (Tomisaburô Wakayama) makes time amongst his villain-dispatchment to make sure he definitely cut this guy in the head, because he thinks he did, and the guys hat fell apart, but the guys still just standing there… like he’s fine… did he definitely… I thought he did… oh, there it is.

Underworld (2003)

Proving that a rrrrubbish film can be saved by an act of well timed violence, Underworld left me with one memory, and that was the top half of Billy Nighy’s head sliding diagonally off his jaw.  In this scene, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) seems to to gain the upper hand in what appears to be an impossible situation. I can’t remember exactly what that situation is exactly because I scrubbed the film from my mind with steel wool and bleach. She flies at ol’ Bill (*SCHPLIK*) and lands several feet away from him to turn and witness the damage. But hold on; ol’ Bill’s fine. He’s more than fine, he’s really pissy! (didn’t she stab him in the head?) Oh my days he’s getting out some knives! He’s going to fight her with knives! (maybe I was wrong, but I definitely thought she stabbed him in the head?) Oh wait… he doesn’t seem too sure of himself all of a sudden. Oh, there it is.

 Final Destination 2 (2003)

Sometimes they don’t fall into 2 bits. SOMETIMES THEY FALL INTO 3 BITS!!!

Oh wait – 4 bits.

Resident Evil  (2002)

Sometimes they don’t fall into some bits. Sometimes they fall into MANY BITS!!!!!! Here’s Resident Evil proving once again that sometimes the value of a film can be condensed into the time it takes for a ‘something’ to happen to the time it takes for ‘something’ to cause a person to flopple apart in different directions.

The Cube (1997)

Pulling this stunt pre-title eh? Did Orson Welles reveal what Rosebud was before the titles in Citizen Kane? I feel that this is basically the same thing.

 Dragonball Z (1989-1996)

Courtesy of my girlfriend, this is particularly notable for the point of view shot. And it sure is a long time coming. In this scene Trunks (brother of Bra and also male heir of the Briefs dynasty) slices Frieza (son of King Cold) in 2. Please do wiki confirm that last sentence.

 Ghost Ship (2002)

And then there’s this.