The Great Raid

Bomb Rating: 

At the end of this film, some guy in the theater got up and screamed "God Bless America!" Personally, I find it hard to believe that God blessed America because he made it possible for Benjamin Bratt to star in this movie. God is obviously a sicko.

Bratt stomps around like he's channeling a little bit of George C. Scott from "Patton" and a whole lot of Marcus Shenkenberg. Like the film, Bratt's Lt. Colonel Mucci doesn't really do a lot. Even when his group of rangers conducts its raid on a Japanese POW camp at Cabanatuan in the Philippines during World War 2 -- the most successful such raid in military history -- Bratt just sits there in the foliage with his binoculars looking on. Undoubtedly, the real Colonel Mucci was a lot more active and a lot more interesting than Bratt is capable of conveying, so the filmmakers decided to have Bratt pretty much sit out the raid.

Ironically, what's wrong with this film is that the episode it depicts was too successful. Great war movies are tragic in some way. Only two Americans die in "The Great Raid" and I couldn't even remember who their characters. I felt kind of guilty, like I should have been more emotionally invested in the deaths, but I felt better blaming the filmmakers for boring me. Of course, there were 21 Filipino soldiers who died as well, but we don't really give a shit about them because they were Filipino and director John Dahl only bothers to let the audience get to know the Filipino leader.

Bad casting abounds here. Benjamin Bratt's chest-thrusting Lt. Colonel is equaled by James Franco's seemingly clueless Captain Prince, who just happens to be the guy who plans the whole raid to near perfection. Let's just say that believing James Franco could do any such thing is nearly impossible and Franco doesn't help matters by emoting like a floating turd. As POW Major Gibson, Joseph Fiennes's sole purpose is to lie in bed and be sick and dream of Connie Nielsen, who plays Margaret Utinsky, a woman working in the Manila Underground. Every single frame devoted to Fiennes focuses on his sad look and the constant reminder of what's keeping him alive. It's so obvious that you can actually see the words: "I want to screw Margaret" seeping from his pores.

Clearly, the guy who yelled "God Bless America" was more absorbed by the voices in his head than the events depicted here.

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