THE WAR BOYS is a low budget, small film by first time director Ron Daniels and written by relative newcomers Naomi Wallace and Bruce McLeod that puts more conflicts before the audience than most hyped Hollywood movies. Where this little film succeeds is in its ability to present the bumps in the lives of young men struggling with the conflict of stepping out of the familial heritage into a world of unknowns. Populated by a very strong cast of young actors, THE WAR BOYS takes us to places other films have feared to go and does so very well.
The location of the film is a small town somewhere near the border between the US and Mexico. The War Boys is the name of a group of lads who in highschool worked their own kind of border patrol, finding illegals and chasing them. Among this triad are Hispanic but American born Grigorio (Victor Rasuk) who joins the action to escape the derision by his classmates as a 'beaner', David (Benjamin Walker) whose father Slater (David Gallagher) has money and has sent David off to Duke University to become a lawyer, and George (Brian J. Smith) an insecure lad whose father is a cab driver and whose mother is supportive (their family also includes a young Mexican girl named 'Cat' (Cheyenne Serano) who runs about the little town dressed as Zorro, acting tough but really in need of love from her new brother George. David is home from college on a spring break (he actually was suspended for stripping nude in one of his classes!) and rejoins George and Grigorio for mischief. David learns that his father brings contraband from Mexico into the US and with that surprising inside information the three plan a heist of what they believe to be a truckload of televisions: the escapade goes terribly wrong when the true contents of the absconded truck are discovered.
The stories that unfold about each of these boys are what make the film gel. Grigorio is a virgin and is infatuated with Marta (Micaela Nevárez), an older but beautiful owner of a doughnut shop: the interaction between these two needy people - the virgin Grigorio and Marta afraid to become involved with someone younger than she - speaks mountains about relationships versus infatuation and physical needs. David and George have a past history of acting out a physical attraction and this comes forth in a set of scenes that address young male sexual identity challenges in some of the most beautifully realized and subtle scenes on film. David and Slater have father/son relationship problems that come to a crisis with David's attraction to George: the surprise is how sensitively this conflict is worked out. George and Cat have never related but when George confides his sexual secrets to Cat she is the supportive bulwark of understanding - again in a very sensitive and subtle way.
Given these character developments and the many critical topics the film addresses (prejudice against illegals, taking advantage of the built in crime of the border towns, sexual identity challenges, etc) the ending of the film is intensely dramatic and leaves the audience with a profound message. An excellent young cast and a fine director make this a powerful little film that should not be missed. Grady Harp
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