Dir: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs
This is how it should go. Mr Emmerich make’s a new film, we all sit down and get a (slightly too long) couple of hours of spectacle and come out feeling a little deflated.
What we actually have is his best film that deserves to be seen as a very good war film. It shows the struggle for American independence from us pesky Brits. It’s surprisingly poignant helped along by its very good cast. Mel is rugged and has a past filled with war which he wants to get over. Heath is fresh faced and eager to server his country much to his father’s displeasure and Mr Issacs is smarmy and hated as he fills the role of customary English villain very well.
Smaltz is still surprised at how much restraint is shown. The battles are seen from a far except of course the epic ending with much screen time given to dialogue and character building. Also enjoyable is when Mel’s band of merry men goes a bit Robin Hood and peacefully sabotages the English army.
What really makes the film work, and is perhaps the most surprising element, is how well the central family work. Where as in other Emmerich films, The Day after Tomorrow say, the character arc is contrived and they are uncared for by the audience, where as here it is painful to watch as the family gets ripped apart.
Indeed the stupidity of civil war (perhaps more so than others) is wrapped up nicely in the films best line “Why swap one dictator three thousand miles away for three thousand dictators one mile away”.