The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Director: Robert Aldrich

Writer: Nunnally Johnson, Lukas Heller (Screenplay) E M Nathanson (Novel)

Starring: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Richard Jaeckel, Donald Sutherland


Plot: During World War II, a rebellious U.S. Army Major is assigned a dozen convicted murderers to train and lead them into a mass assassination mission of German officers.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Classic We All Know


Story: The Dirty Dozen starts as Major Reisman (Marvin) is assigned to train 12 convicted criminals lined up for execution to go on a secret mission in German during World War II. The criminals include Joseph Wladislaw (Brosnan), Robert Jefferson (Brown) and Victor Franko (Cassavetes) who along with the rest of the crew must go under training to be combat ready.

The men start coming into shape and start working in a unit but when other generals want to bring down and end the unit, Reisman must fight to get his men on the battle field to prove to General Worden (Borgnine) he can turn get these men into battle.


Thoughts on The Dirty Dozen


Characters/PerformanceMajor Reisman is the man assigned the criminal unit, he knows how to get men into line when it comes to battle and will risk his own career to prove he can make these men a powerful unit. General Worden assigns Reisman the unit believe he couldn’t get it done but also has to make the decisions on who to put into the field. Joseph Wladislaw is one of the criminals who happily takes up the role required and his German speaking background helps on the mission. Jefferson takes up one of the reluctant leaders of the unit. Franko is the one that rebels the most but soon learns his place even when he is standing up for the right thing.

Performance wise, Lee Marvin is great in the leading role dominating the screen whenever he appears, we also have a fantastic supporting cast that all know how to pull off their roles.

StoryThe story follows a group of misfits being pulled together to go on a deadly mission, this is always an entertaining type of story to watch as we like unlikely heroes but the problem with a lot of this story is we must support murderers who are just escaping death row rather than guys who have just fallen of the rails. The story is also slightly long but it does give each supporting character enough time.

Action/Adventure/Comedy/WarWe have the standard war time action sequences that have never come off overly original. We have nice moments of comedy mostly through the training sequences and the adventure coming from how hard the men must work.

SettingsEach setting works as it shows the different stages from the training to the mission itself.

EffectsThe effects all work for where the film is planning on going which does help and they are only used sparingly.

Final ThoughtsThis will always go down as one of the classic in war films and even after 50 years it doesn’t feel like it has been dated yet.


Overall: Still one of the classics of cinema.





The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Director: Michael Mann

Writer: Michael Mann, Christopher Crowe (Screenplay) James Fenimore Cooper (Novel)

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Eric Schweig, Jodhi May, Steven Waddington, Wes Studi


Plot: Three trappers protect a British Colonel’s daughters in the midst of the French and Indian War.

Tagline – The first American hero.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Good, but Hard to Follow


Story: The Last of the Mohicans starts in the middle of the French Indian war raging through America we meet trapper Hawkeye (Day-Lewis) who doesn’t want to get involved in the war when the British try to recruit support in the battle. Major Duncan Heywood (Waddington) is preparing to escort the General’s daughters Cora (Stowe) and Alice (May) across the country, hoping he can marry Cora one day. When the group get ambushes, Hawkeye guides them to safety but then finds himself in the middle of the war he was trying to avoid. Hawkeye falls in love with Cora and soon finds himself needing to free himself from the British who treat him like a war criminal even after what he did for the British and continues to do when Cora is in danger.


Thoughts on The Last of the Mohicans


Characters – Hawkeye is the adopted child of an Indian family raised to be one of their greatest trappers, he along with his family would like to stay out of the war, but he gets dragged into the battle after rescuing the British General’s daughters. He shows the strength to lead an army, determination to win a battle and the love it feels for Cora. Cora is the daughter of a British general trapped in a world at war, she becomes the love interest for Hawkeye who spends most of the film trying to rescue her. If I am honest, I found it hard to tell any of the British apart or any of the Indians, which at time made it confusing to follow who was on the good side and bad side.

PerformancesDaniel Day-Lewis is good in the leading role, which is something you would have come to expect from him, but his combat scenes don’t seem to click at times. Madeleine Stowe is good to as is the whole cast who are good without being great and not being bad through the film.

StoryThe story follows a neutral trapper in the middle of the British and French battling in America who gets caught up in the middle of the war because of his love for a British woman who needs protecting. This does play into moments of history without being anything special if we are being honest, we try to learn more about the history of the early battles in America without us knowing too much going in, we barely learn anything afterwards too.

Action/Adventure/Romance/WarThe action while massive on scale can become plenty of well placed battle moments searching for shock value, the romance drives Hawkeye to fight and save during a war backdrop, one he never wanted to be part of.

SettingsThe settings show the clash of worlds, the Indian beliefs, the British forts and the French forts which shows us who will be comfortable in different battle situations.

Scene of the Movie –
Ambushes number two.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Figuring out who was on which side, just gets confusing.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that is filled with praise before I went into it, by the end I found it just to be fine, I wouldn’t consider it a great and in fact not one I would be watching again.


Overall: Overly hyped movie.




Joseph Gordon-Levitt Weekend – Stop-Loss (2008)

Director: Kimberly Peirce

Writer: Kimberly Peirce, Mark Richard (Screenplay)

Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Channing Tatum, Abbie Cornish, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Victor Rasuk, Timothy Olyphant, Ciaran Hinds, Rob Brown


Plot: A veteran soldier returns from his completed tour of duty in Iraq, only to find his life turned upside down when he is arbitrarily ordered to return to field duty by the Army.

Tagline – The bravest place to stand is by each other’s side.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Must Watch Movie


Story: Stop-Loss starts as we see the army unit that is touring in Iraq, they come under attack losing men, Brandon King (Phillippe) and Steve Shriver (Tatum) return home with their unit for a weekend of leave with Tommy (Gordon-Levitt) and Eyeball (Brown).

The weekend in Texas shows the effects on war has had on the soldiers, Steve becoming a violent drunk, while Tommy is suffering from losing his best friend on that last mission, Brandon tries to keep them in line while he is about to eave himself. Brandon gets stop-loss meaning he must return to Iraq, but he isn’t going to return, going on the run AWOL from the army with Michelle (Cornish), Steve’s girlfriend, as he wants to find a way to leave the army, while also showing the effects of the war on him.


Thoughts on Stop-Loss


Characters – Brandon King is the squad leader of his unit, he losses men on his latest tour of duty, but believes he is out with this latest tour, he must remain calm for his men back home while clearly suffering from PTSD from the events. He gets ordered to return to Iraq which he isn’t having leading him to go on the run, searching for answers to stop his return to war. Steve is Brandon’s best friend and fellow star of their home town, he returns home to get married, but his suffering is clearer to see and this puts his relationship with Michelle in the air. Michelle is Steve’s girlfriend, they are meant to be getting married, but when Brandon goes on the wrong, she supports him as her relationship with Steve get worse. Tommy is another member of the unit, he loses his best friend on tour and never recovers, he drinks to get through his nightmares which shows the PTSD he is suffering from, only Brandon can get through to him and with him on the run Tommy is a danger to everyone.

PerformancesRyan Phillippe gives his best performance of his career in this role, he shows the strength his character needs while the weaknesses inside are tearing him up. Channing Tatum broke away from the pretty boys roles first with this role and shows that he does have skills. Abbie Cornish is strong in her role through the film and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fantastic in the supporting role as the PTSD in his character feels the most destructive.

StoryThe story follows the effects of war on three soldiers returning from a tour of duty in Iraq, they are all suffering from different levels of PTSD and shouldn’t be returning to duty, when one gets Stop-loss he goes on the run, ones behaviour stops him going back with this being the only thing he wants and the third who wanted out but decides he wants to return. While the story shows one man trying to get away from his duty, it shows the larger effects of soldiers that are returning with PTSD and how easily they can just break. This is an important story about treating soldiers with respect by not forcing them to return if they are not mentally capable off because of what they have seen, done or been involved in, and how to support them as they try to return to normal lives.

WarThe war side of this film is shown in what happened to these soldiers and the aftermath of what happens when they return without the support required.

SettingsThe settings show both the world they have been living in Iraq and the home back in Texas as they are in desperate search to get on with their life.

Scene of the Movie –
Brothers fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The lack of support the soldiers get.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most impactful movies when it comes to tackle war, it shows how difficult life away from the tours can tear the soldiers apart in a war they didn’t need to be fighting. This has career best performances from the three lead actors and a story which could easily be a reality to any soldier returning from active duty.


Overall: Must watch war story.




ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – F – Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Writer: Stanley Kubrick, Michael Herr, Gustav Hasford (Screenplay) Gustav Hasford (Novel)

Starring: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, Kevyn Major Howard


Plot: A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.

Tagline – An Epic Story of the Vietnam War

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: The Epic We Know


Story: Full Metal Jacket starts as we follow the Marine training under the brutally strict Gny. Sgt, Hartman (Ermey) who puts the recruits through intense training, Pvt Joker (Modine) is one of these marines, it is Pvt Leonard ‘Gomer Pyle’ Lawrence (D’Onofrio) that takes the highest level of abuse from Hartman. Upon graduation Gomer has reached his limits and is ready to snap, showing just how far the training can drive someone.

Joker goes to Vietnam to be part of the journalist side reporting on the war as a soldier, his unit are meant to be writing stories to inspire the soldiers to continue the fight. Joker takes Rafterman (Howard) to write a story where they end up with Animal Mother (Baldwin) and his unit showing the horrors of war.


Thoughts on Full Metal Jacket


Characters – Private Joker is the one telling us the story, from training to the front in Vietnam as a journalist soldier, he barely sees combat until his latest story where he final gets to experience the war first hand. Animal Mother is one of the marines that Joker meets along the way, he doesn’t like the happy-go-lucky personality that Joker shows because he knows the true horror of war. Private Leonard ‘Gomer Pyle’ Lawrence is the biggest victim of the abuse from the drill instructor, he gets alienated from the rest of the trainees reaching his limit before snapping, showing us that the training methods can destroy a soldier before he even steps foot in war. Gny Sgt Hartman is the drill instructor for the marines, he is brutal in his techniques which causes Leonard to go too far. He does possess some of the greatest insults in any military movies.

PerformancesMatthew Modine is great in this role, he shows the light-hearted attitude towards war as well as the horror when he ends up in the middle of it. Adam Baldwin does a good job as thee soldier ha wants the highest body count. Vincent D’Onofrio is truly brilliant in his role, you feel like you are understanding his emotional evolution during the film. R Lee Ermey stuns dominating the screen with every single scene he is in, making a big impact on the genre.

StoryThe story shows the intense training before heading into Vietnam, it goes onto show how the soldiers would need to learn to think on their feet, while remaining united against the enemies ahead during the horrors of war. The training side of the film is the highlight of everything because it is a non-stop intense display of how the training happens. Once in Vietnam it does feel just like most war dramas, following the unit through the different war scenarios they must deal with. The story will remain up there with the very best without a doubt.

War The genre is always a difficult watch, we know the war was real, we know millions lost their lives in conflict which ever war we talk about, this was Vietnam and was just like the rest shocking and disturbing to the people in the middle of it as well as fighting in it.

SettingsThe settings put us in the middle of the war and the training, you can’t fault the settings which come off perfectly.

Scene of the Movie –
Leonard pushed too far.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Is there one? No.

Final ThoughtsThis is considered one of the greatest movies of all time and you can see why, it is flawless in how every scene unfolds, has the most brutal training regime you will ever see and shows the horrors of war.


Overall: Powerful Masterpiece from the master.




12 Strong (2018)

Director: Nicolai Fuglsig

Writer: Ted Tally, Peter Craig (Screenplay) Doug Stanton (Book)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Navid Negahban, Trevante Rhodes, Geoff Stults, Thad Luckinbill


Plot: 12 Strong tells the story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11; under the leadership of a new captain, the team must work with an Afghan warlord to take down for the Taliban.

Tagline – The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Brilliant Pulse Pounding Action Film


Story: 12 Strong starts on the day of 9/11, Captain Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth) witnesses the horrors of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, returning to his military base, he wants to lead her unit into battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Once receiving permission and earning the right, Mitch is joined by Hal Spencer (Shannon) and his 10 other trusted soldiers that head into Afghanistan to work with the Afghan Warlord General Dostum (Negahban) as they unleashes the first attack in retaliation after the 9/11 attack.


Thoughts on 12 Strong


Characters – These soldiers are real people, Mitch Nelson is the unexperienced combat Captain that takes his driven man into battle, he must use his own smarts to be given the opportunity to be the first in the retaliation, he uses his knowledge to work with General Dostum as the two different cultures and ideas must come together for the battle. Hal Spencer is the second in command of the unit, he is older and offers the advice he soldier needs to get himself to the right answers. The rest of the unit all have their moments through the story and by the end you will believe you are watching a real unit.

PerformancesChris Hemsworth in the leading role is fantastic, he keeps himself looking like the star even though he needs to work with a unit to get the right answers, showing he can handle the serious roles once again. Michael Shannon in the supporting role shines even though it is strange seeing him in a good guy role after his recent run as a villain. The rest of the cast are great, they all have wonderful chemistry which the unit needs to pull this off.

StoryThe day of 9/11 shocked the world, America the most and this shows the plan to retaliate after the attacks, the first men to go into combat against the Taliban as they risked everything to get a strike back and prevent what was believed to be another big attack. This is a true story, this could easily have been a fictional story because after the mission starts, you are pulled into seeing just what the men will do to get the job done and of course it is an against the odd style mission.

Action/History/WarThe action sequences are shot in a brutal style that doesn’t hold back with what happens, we are left shocked by certain moments and on the edge of our seats the next because of the war time battle sequences.

SettingsThe settings look the part, we are mostly just in and around caves and canyons which is where the Taliban would be hiding and preparing.

Special EffectsThe effects for the battle sequences are flawless, looking brutal and the stunt team need praise for the work they have put into this movie.

Scene of the Movie –
The final surge, wonderfully shot moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is ‘we are America, we are great’

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best war movies or recent years, it shows the brutally of the war, the thin line between good and evil between the Afghan units and just how bringing together two cultures can unit for a same enemy.


Overall: Must watch action movie.