Browse Category: War

Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge (2016): Mel Gibson

Ten years and loads of tabloid covers passed between Mel Gibson’s previous directorial output Apocalypto and Hacksaw Ridge. Hollywood essentially blacklisted him for a decade partly for his deeply anti-Semitic remarks following a DUI arrest in 2006.

Hollywood, like America, loves second chances, and Gibson got one with this story of a man who went to war without fighting.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A conscientious objector and Army medic holds onto personal beliefs and saves dozens of lives without firing a shot during one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.

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RECAP: Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down (2001): Ridley Scott

October 1993 was a bad time for Somalia. Beset by self-proclaimed president Mohamed Farrah Aidid and, at the time, the world’s worst famine, which he evoked, Somalia, and especially its capital Mogadishu, needed help.

The United Nations sent peacekeepers who were handcuffed to oppose Aidid. The United States sent many of its best soldiers. Those soldiers spent a long period searching for Aidid to no avail. Then, one afternoon, they learned of a meeting of two of Aidid’s top people in the city, and perhaps they could capture them.

That afternoon became one of the worst military results for the US in Africa.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: In a mission to capture a vicious warlord in war-ravaged Mogadishu, an American black hawk helicopter crashes, and American soldiers spend the worst night of their lives trying to save the men trapped inside it.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Dunkirk

Dunkirk (2017): Christopher Nolan

Folks got confused when they heard a war movie about British heroes directed by British director Christopher Nolan would last–gasp–less than two hours.

Thank Chris it did! Dunkirk was 2017’s most exhilarating action movie, with about as many words spoken as minutes lasted.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Trapped at Dunkirk, the British Expeditionary Force wants to go home, and they’ll do whatever it takes to survive.  Continue Reading

RECAP: The Wall

The Wall (2017): Doug Liman

On the heels of the critical success Edge of Tomorrow, Doug Liman made a tiny movie called The Wall. For $3 million you get Aaron Taylor-Johnson rolling around in sand and treating leg wounds. Also, there’s a sniper.

The Wall came and went about as fast as a bullet from 1,500 yards, its impact minimal. Released in mid-May, the film fell into the wash of the rocket ride that was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. 

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A crumbling brick wall is all that protects an American soldier from an Iraqi sniper’s bullets.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor (2013): Peter Berg

A mission in Afghanistan in 2005 goes terribly wrong, and only one man survives. He writes a book. Peter Berg reads that books. It becomes an early 2014 hit.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: One Navy SEAL survives a mission gone wrong in Afghanistan in 2005.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman (2017): Patty Jenkins

It took 76 years, but in June of 2017 Wonder Woman, a canon comic book character, finally got a feature film to call her own.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Formed from clay, on an island of immortal women, Diana Prince leaves her world to fight the last war against Ares, the last god.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Fury

Fury (2014): David Ayer

Written and directed by David Ayer, Fury rolled into theaters with a palette of green and a smirking Brad Pitt. The titular tank might be the first tank character in a World War II movie.

Fury, the tank, is named for the word “Fury” painted in white across its cannon. Nazi war medals dangle inside amongst a crew of five: commander, gunner, loader, driver, and assistant driver.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Five American soldiers drive a tank, Fury, through Germany in April 1945.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Jarhead

Jarhead (2005): Sam Mendes

I’m trying something new here at The Exploder: reviewing an inaction action movie. Jarhead tells the story of Anthony Swofford, eventual private, in the US Marin Corps during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

It’s a long story for a short war, as it kicks off at Camp Pendleton in 1989, two years before the fight against Saddam “Insane,” as one character refers to him.

Strange thing is, Jarhead is perhaps the only war movie in which the main character doesn’t fire a shot.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A young Marine sniper survives the Gulf War without sniping anyone.  Continue Reading

RECAP: The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red Line (1998): Terrence Malick

Hollywood loves to double up its tentpole movie themes, and 1998 was no exception. The more celebrated, more revered, more watched, more beloved Saving Private Ryan is a classic of the war genre.

This is the other movie. The Thin Red Line was longer and more beautifully shot, its cast of characters was larger and its moralizing stronger. But was it better?

Malick left a 20-year gap between his 1978 Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line. About every male actor in Hollywood expressed interest in appearing in his return.

Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Sheen, Robert Redford, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mickey Rouke, Viggo Mortensen, Bill Pullman, and Gary Oldman: all these guys performed for the movie and DID NOT make the final cut.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: American soldiers discover, even on a beautiful island, that war sucks.  Continue Reading

RECAP: The Bridges at Toko-Ri

The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954): Mark Robson

Thirty-five thousand American soldiers died in the Korean War, but in the long shadow of the Second World War, the men who served on the Korean Peninsula are often overlooked. This was not the case in 1955, the year after the war ended and the year Hollywood released this movie, based on James Michener’s novel. This critically acclaimed film featured a vast use of the US Navy’s resources and access, and showed just how important the soldiers were during that war.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A Navy pilot, sick of war and worried about an upcoming bombing run, still has to do it, despite the protestations of his wife. Continue Reading