23 August 2002 | Sonatine97
Great Escapist Entertainment
Perhaps one of the best war films ever to come out of Hollywood, WED, is typical Boys-Own, escapist adventure, where our heroes (Burton, Eastwood et al) can do no wrong and the action comes thick and fast.
But this isn't total mindless violence (see Rambo 2, for that kind of rubbish). WED does have a decent story and nice little plot twists, that although not totally plausible do make the film a bit more thought-provoking than just watching 148 minutes of gun fire, explosions, decapitations and soldiers being thrown off cable cars at great altitude.
Even though both Eastwood & Burton hog most of the show (and rightly so), they are ably supporting by two women (Mary Ure & Ingrid Pitt). Both women don't have chunky roles but its significant to see any females play such positive parts in what is mostly a male arena when it comes to war films.
Some of the photography is absolutely stunning even though some of the stunts are clearly filmed in the relative safety of a studio, and it shows too!
The acting, although not as po-faced, talky & self-righteous as the film's nearest rival, The Guns Of Navarone (see review), is good by most standards. Burton looks perhaps little old for this kind of all-out hero roll, but he manages to pull it off with his fierce determination and calm disposition.
As for Eastwood, well it meant a uniformed departure from his poncho, gun holster & cowboy hat from his day with Sergio Leone. He is still playing the same kind of character as The Man With No Name, and is still killing hundreds of bad guys while looking suitably cool & reserved, the only difference is the era - from the Wild West to WW2.
But surprisingly the combination of Burton's classical approach to acting & Eastwood's brash new-kid-on-the block 60s adaption works quite well and make for a good partnership as they go about kicking German Butt in their usual inimitable ways.
Brian Hutton's direction follows the pace & temperament of Alistair MacLean's sparkly screenplay although I do feel the film is a tad too long and I think about 15 minutes could've been cut without really upsetting the balance of the story.
WED doesn't challenge the brain, it is thought-provoking in its own little ways and probably bares little or no resemblance to how life was really like during the real WW2. But for all that WED is great entertainment. It doesn't insult the intelligence but then again it was never meant to. But what we are left with is a very enjoyable romp with a great cast and superb scenary.
It doesn't take itself too seriously as Guns Of Navarone does; and neither is it just mindless violence (Rambo 2). This film dares to be different and succeeds in spades.