What’s the point of making what some critic referred to as a “B-movie about World War II” in this day and age? The acting is the best part of this film. Shia Labeouf does a credible job as does Brad Pitt in the suitably intense role of “Wardaddy”, the leader of a band of men fighting in a tank during the last days of the European combat theatre in WWII.
The point: Resolve on the part of the U.S. And belief in finishing the job. So when assigned to hold an important road, the leader of the team doesn’t question authority nor does he shirk his duty. All of the important words: duty, honor, courage, and heroism in the face of insurmountable odds-all of these factors are in play here.
One of the stand-out scenes in this mostly by rote war film depicts Pitt/Wardaddy going into a civilian German apartment and simply sitting down and behaving as someone would who is on holiday. He is simply taking a break from war.
Although not quite as effective as, say Spielberg’s use of the child in the red coat inserted into the stark black and white film, ‘Schindler’s List’, this gives us a stark and vivid reminder that not everything in war is black and white. Sometimes the nuances we see or infer become the most memorable take-a-ways from a film.
In some parts of the action sequences, I remembered how my father, a World War II veteran himself, would speak of the way the United States was always depicted in a war film. The John Wayne Mythological hero was just that -a myth. While the Allies were basically a brave and honorable group of men, no one was above reproach when it came to the treatment of Prisoners of War on the battlefield.
This film reminds us that the bravery we see is still very real in times of war, and the morality, or lack of it is sometimes lost in the “fog of war”. It makes even the most moral and upright souls begin to question their humanity and at times, even the existence of God. If that’s not part of the message of this film, then perhaps it’s one that should be considered.
And perhaps the revival of the WWII soldier/ensemble movie will continue. Or maybe this is the last gasp of a dead genre-but for those who love action/adventure films, or war movies in general, this film should satisfy.