There have been a lot of films set during the Vietnam War or explores its aftermath. It is not a noble war like WW2 in people’s minds, it was bloody, unnecessary, and it left shockwaves throughout American society, that we are still living through today. How do you capture a war like that, well some have done it through sceptical, some have done it through horror, and there was that one time was a flying elephant. Today I look at a film that has all of that, okay not the elephant part, while hitting the realities and legacy of the Vietnam War.
So to set the scene, we open in on a montage of Black America and their experiences in war, specifically Vietnam War or the American War as it is known in Vietnam. This is where we get a crash course on the War from start to finish through a lens we don’t always see. We jump to today in Ho Chi Minh City today where four old friends come together again in a country they once fought in, a place full of memories but also somewhere that has gone through a lot of changes. Paul (Delroy Lindo), Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), Otis (Clarke Peters) & Eddie (Norm Lewis) have come back to Vietnam for one reason, to find the body of one of their fallen comrades Stormin’ Norman (Chadwick Boseman). However, there may also be a whole lot of gold from the war on the line as well.
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 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.
TL;DR – A wonderfully filmed, brilliantly acted look at what was one of the most controversial periods in United States’ history. While it is interesting it does take a bit to get going.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – No
I don’t think a film in recent history has had an easier sell as The Post, a film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Meryl Streep & Tom Hanks, scored by John Williams, and based on one of the most controversial periods in United States’ history. Indeed, this is a kind of line up that you don’t see happen very often, and it is truly amazing to see it all come together. That being said there are some structural issues that do hold it back, and it does have a very clear message, and it is subtle about it which might work for you or not.