Sharpe's Company really marked the beginning of what the series would become. It was bigger than the previous two entries, and everyone involved in the series seemed to be settling in. Sean Bean seemed to really slip into his own comfort zone with the character here, and Tom Clegg seemed to be comfortable as a Director as well. And Daragh O'Malley stepped right up and made Harper a major player in the franchise.
I saw it mentioned in another review that Sharpe's Company is the one movie of the series that can really stand on it's own. I have to say, even though it's not my very favourite, I totally agree. This was my introduction to Sharpe, and it is the perfect place to start. In fact, I didn't even see the first 2 movies, Rifles and Eagles, until much later on. Maybe the reason why this is so good as a stand alone movie is because everything seemed to really begin here. Like I said, Company was the beginning of what the series would become. Rifles portrayed Sharpe as a very different character in very different circumstances. Eagles kind of set up him as a leader of the Riflemen. Here in Sharpe's Company, Sharpe has become a leader and has softened up a bit as a character. He's very trusting and sympathetic to his men, he takes the role as a mentor to a young boy, and he's about to become a father. But of course we still get several great scenes of Sharpe the arrogant bully, tormenting his enemy, Obadiah Hakeswill. The way Sharpe does torment Obadiah would normally set him up as a despicable guy in most movies, but thanks to Pete Postlethwaite's performance as Obadiah, you can't help but cheer Sharpe on as he constantly lays into him. And Pete Postlethwaite's performance is phenomenal. It's insane and mad, while just sitting on the right side of being over-the-top. Not many people can mumble their way through a movie and talk into their hat, and not be a laughing stock to the audience. Instead, Postlethwaite develops himself as a menacing villain. He's despicable and entertaining at the same time.
The final siege is where Sharpe's Company really shines. Instead of filming it like an action piece, Tom Clegg directs the sequence in a very personal way. All you see for most of the Siege is close up shots of the Red Coats charging forward. Since he focuses right on the soldiers the whole time, the explosions and gunshots around have more effect. You're not seeing the enemy firing on them, so there's more suspense. It's a powerful sequence full of soldiers marching and dying right on camera. If it had been shot like most War movies, the scene would have no impact. To Tom Clegg's credit, not showing us a lot of the mayhem around is really what made the end of this so worth watching. And then of course there's the long awaited showdown between Sharpe and Obadiah (which is an especially long wait when you consider the India series that was never made into movies). Although it's brief, there's enough pure energy between Sean Bean and Pete Postlethwaite to end with a bang. I think it's unlikely that someone can watch Sharpe's Company and not enjoy it. I think it's downright impossible to watch Sharpe's Company and not be interested in seeing what happens next in Sharpe's Enemy. This movie was the perfect launching point for the series, and it sets up the next movie while still giving the audience closure. Every time I see the end of Sharpe's Company, I immediately make plans to see Sharpe's Enemy. I suggest everyone else check that one out as well.
And a final message to Tom Clegg. If you're reading this, and you've never considered it, I urge you to get to work on a new Sharpe movie. PLEASE! There's still so much more to do.
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