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.