Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Great Raid (IMDB) (Netflix)
Based closely on the true story of a WWII raid to free over 500 U.S. prisoners of war in the Philippines. Benjamin Bratt is the crusty Colonel leading the Rangers, James Franco is the young Captain who hatched the plan, Joseph Fiennes is the sickly ranking officer of the prisoners, and Connie Nielsen is, yes indeed, the woman who loves him.

It's a truly great story, but unfortunately not writer-, director- or actor-proof. As with so many of these films, the desire to honor the characters' heroism overwhelms any other consideration, like depth, pace or interesting dialogue. The under-rated "A Bridge Too Far" was criticized because some parts (the huge number of mistakes, the daylight river crossing, the flip British response to the Germans' demands for surrender) were so outrageous that no one believed them, but they were in fact all true. Here, however, the truth is turned into cliche, and soon, to boredom.