TL;DR – A powerful and deeply compelling film that explores a key moment in Australia’s military history and the cost it took.
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is a credit sequence and a mid-credit scene
Australia has a long history of making truly excellent war films. From works such as the pivotal Gallipoli to Beneath Hill 60 to The Rats of Tobruk and many more. So walking in I knew that there was a level of quality that was going to be there no matter what. However, for me, I can either be drawn in fully to war film or I can bounce off it like Andy Dwyer off an ambulance, so there was still a little hesitation. But I should not have been concerned because this is some of the best of Australian cinema at the moment.
So to set the scene, it is 1966 and it is the height of the Vietnam War, a Cold War proxy conflict between the USA and the Soviet Union played out in the context of a civil war between North and South Vietnam. The 1st Australian Task Force headed by Brigadier David Jackson (Richard Roxburgh) is set up in Nui Dat where they send patrols out into the local countryside. One night the camp is attacked by mortars and while the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery were able to target them, the 1st Field Regiment, need to follow up the next day to find the source. Alpha Company didn’t find much, so part in punishment Harry Smith’s (Travis Fimmel) Delta Company was sent out to chase them down while a musical performance was happening back at camp. All was going well until at the rubber plantation at Long Tan the 11th Platoon of D Company came under heavy fire and it is soon discovered that this is not just a raiding party but a full battalion of the North Vietnamese Army heading their way, 100 men against and advance of 2000 and a monsoon is just about to hit.