21 January 2011 | thisissubtitledmovies
doesn't delve quite far enough
excerpt, full review at my location.
Cinema is motion. Thriving on the kinetic, its action heroes are proactive do-gooders. But what if they're impotent, incarcerated, or stripped of devious gadgetry? Then they do the right thing. A dark moral vision, The Undercover War frames ghostly non-combatants, dissenters whose resolute inaction is valorous. Eschewing the TNT-stoked inferno of the battleground, the film plays out life-or-death scenarios in banal surrounds. This is a eulogy to kitchen-sink crusaders; little heroes whose small glories are all but invisible to the annals.
A sombre endgame, The Undercover War offers no great escapes. Competent, if lacking in formal dazzle, the film's reverent drama becomes sedate, lulling to a clammy checkmate. Whilst more downbeat than similar narratives, its predictable trajectory detracts from the realism Steil's restrained direction seeks to evoke. Slaying, and then substituting a new-old mythos, the narrative itself feels imprisoned by the classic grammar of the combat film. Digestion-smoothing viewing for dozily patriotic Sunday afternoons, this is neo-traditional fare which doesn't delve quite far enough beneath the shadows.