Director: David Ayer
I was SO anti this when I saw the trailers as I thought it was just another “America wins world war 2” ego-trip remix. Luckily they managed to stop themselves from adding in any atrocious ally stereotypes with walk-on roles involving them pointing a gun backwards or accidentally shoot themselves in the head while the Americans save everyone.
The pros are that it was basically a feature-length Band of Brothers. Though being 2 hours long this made it more like a double episode of Band of Brothers, except with half the characters and an almost total lack of any other kind of tactical manoeuvres except a bit of tank reversing and cannon pivoting. ALRIGHT so there was a bit more to it than that, and I did really enjoy it overall. I’m no expert on these things, but I just think that there were perhaps more advanced ground warfare tactics than just: follow the tank until the tank starts getting blown up, THEN run out in generally any direction until you get shot. Of course you expect the film to be tank-centred, but it kind of cuts out of a lot of potential for showing good tactical warfare which Band of Brothers does so beautifully.
Pros: Great characters from the start even if there were only 5 of them, and a gripping storyline despite the limited plot potential for 5 guys in a tank shooting stuff. They did amazingly well to stay away from any “1 tank team wins the war” type narratives, and kept it small scale but still packing a punch. There are emotional moments, and the power play of Don as leader is a tad confusing to work out, especially regarding Grady and Trini who one minute say they wouldn’t be anywhere else in the world (“best job I ever had”) and the next seem to be giving Don unnecessary ear-ache over past events. Though overall this plays well for tension and emotional development, making us wonder how close their bond really is, and what stress it can withstand before they go against Don.
Cons: Atrocious treatment of women by all but Norm and Bible but isn’t that a bit of a boring predictable thing to say about a film oh lol? *despairs* Even Norm is slightly questionable: did he stop to think that Emma probably only slept with him because she was scared they would kill them otherwise (especially given Don’s comment that “she’s a good clean girl, if you don’t take her in that bedroom I will” etc). Bit questionable asking us to forgive rape for Gordo and Grady at least, with Don’s implication that he would rape Emma, and encouragement of Norm, and yet the film still asks us to root for their survival just because it’s war and oh well everyone sort of did that and look maybe Emma even wants it? Of course rape happened on all sides, but “she wide open you can just jump on in” followed by the review: “she looks a little bit like a whore but [not too bad/it’s okay/what you gonna do?]” which is played almost as a line of comedy by Gordo. Ugh.
Sadly, strong female representation in a film about a tank team was probably the last thing I expected. Though is it really that bigger ask? All they had to do was tone down what they did, I don’t need a Mulan-esque power women shoe-horned into the tank team wearing a fake moustache, but I sure as hell would rather acceptance of rape did not feature either. It gets kind of boring saying “This film was amazing, except for the use of women of course.” But that’s exactly what the deal is here. If you ignore the “rape is okay if there’s a war on” subtext then yeah a great film, but it is not something to be ignored quite frankly, and it formed little function in the narrative except to give Norm a bit of a boost to kill Nazis.