"I've got a cake walk for you & your company delivering Christmas hams. This war is over...It's a cheeseburger, cherry coke, & a side of fries."
"Gentle on the trigger. Don't pull just squeeze... Were you scared? I didn't really think about it. Of what? Oh, I don't know a bullet to the head [perhaps]. I was afraid I'd miss the shot more than anything else. Ignorance is bliss. Hades of a shot [Nate.]"
"Hey, you gotta a lucky horseshoe up your caboose kid."
"Last chance ace, tell me about those 2 girls waiting for you back home. You mean my mother & oldest sister? You fooled me kid. Not bad son."
Over the weekend, I watched a historical drama called "Company Of Heroes" directed by Don Michael Paul. It was released in 2013 & this 1 hour & 40 minute feature is the companion piece to "Beyond Valkyrie: Dawn Of The Fourth Reich," a picture I just recently reviewed not that long ago.
World War II always gets romanticized more than any other world conflict does. The reason for this is self explanatory. NAZIs are always portrayed as the epitome of sheer evil due to concentration camps, horrific experimentations, brutality against people of Jewish descent on Poland & Western Europe; & the magnitude & scope of the genocide as well. In addition, several of the battles are bloody, the death tolls are high; & the audience always that's there's a girl back in the states a soldier is trying to get back to in one piece as opposed to a casket or just a set of dog tags anyway. One such gruesome battle was the Battle of the Bugle which took place in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium on December 16, 1944.
The 2nd Infantry Division via the US Army had left their base known as Elsenborn Ridge walking through snowcapped grounds of the Ardennes Forest when they were ambushed by German troops with mortars, machine guns with 50 calibers bullets, & a fleet of 5 tiger tanks from the 12th SS Panzer Division. I'm not gonna lie to ya. Watching soldiers surprised on foot by tiger tanks is pretty exhilarating & frighting at the same time especially when all you have are Tommy guns, sidearm pistols, & a couple of snipper rifles. Son of a...how in the hades are we gonna disable & sabotage a freaking tank without getting blown to bites. Join the Army. It's not just a job; it's an adventure right? Whenever a guy who outranks you Lt. Joe Conti [Neal McDonough] & orders your company to deliver a few hams a few miles down the road as a 'cake walk' or he implies that something will be easy; you already know you're screwed right? Yep.
The 2nd Infantry division is led by their commanding officer named Sgt. Matherson [Sam Spruell]. He just promoted a sharp shooter, Nate Burrows [Chad Michael Collins]; to primary snipper in the unit since the guy in that role just took a bullet through the neck right after a deer startled them moving in the snow. The good thing about war movies centered around an international conflict is that usually drop the audience quickly into the action as possible & strangely enough female love interests either remain in Europe, their soldier main squeeze dies, or the guy returns to America, & we never know if they even write steamy love letters from afar. The attraction is more inferred or implied without literally engaging in the act of intercourse itself. I guess flicks dealing with a 1940's theme like to be more subtle vs explicit I suppose. Forbidden fruit without tasting it in a nutshell. The odd thing though is that when a soldier could die at any moment & you rescue a pretty girl from harm what's the problem with a little carnal knowledge fun in order to offset the likelihood of ending up in body bag?
The Battle of the Bulge sequence in Belgium was pretty compelling as Nate doesn't panic under fire. Nate maintains his composure & concentration & pops off rounds likes he's shooting clay pigeons in a field back home in North Carolina. He carries his father's purple heart around with him where ever he goes trying to live up to his old man's valor from The Great War back in 1918. I just liked it when Nate & Dean Ranson their cook [Tom Sizemore] made their way to a noel where they used a rocket launcher to barbecue all the Germans inside a Tiger tank by hitting the steal machine at it's track after it got stuck on a high incline. Then, anybody left standing jumps into a distant fox hole surrounded by sand bags for cover & survival.
Shortly after all the debris & carnage settles, the men of the 2nd Infantry Division hear a rumble off in the distance & they feel a shockwave that Nate Burrows mistakes for thunder. It's not lightning folks. It's a test run of an atomic bomb being deployed in the countryside of Leinfeld, Germany under the supervision of an SS officer named Commandant Beimler [Richard Sammel]. How come all SS villains wear a black leather jacket, have a gas mask at the ready, have a cane by their side; & have their left leg wrapped with a metal brace anyway? Yeah, I know. That way we know nothing can kill this tough SOB. He's like a roach man. He can survive anything & he's exceptionally vicious & sadistic right? Your prototype NAZI henchmen. There's also a nuclear physicist on site named Dr. Luca Gruenewald [Jürgen Prochnow] & his brunette assistant Kestrel [Melia Kreiling] a smoking hot lady born in Switzerland who works at NAZI nuclear facility close to Stuttgart Rail Yard in Germany. There was a trigger malfunction which resulted in a diminished blast radius of radiation & our SS officer is furious that his geiger counter detector didn't murder enough people to his satisfaction. Naturally, Dr. Gruenewald planned this trigger malfunction on purpose, but Commandant Beimer doesn't know that. The doctor is German, but he is vehemently opposed to what Hitler's regime is doing across Europe & Russia.
To cut a long story short, after surviving the Battle of the Bulge, Nate Burrows & co. bump into an angry Russian named Ivan Puzharski [Dimitri Diatchenko] determined to get vengeance on those darn NAZIs for locking him up in a concentration camp that he barely escaped from. As a result, the Second Infantry Division what's left of them away after a fire fight on a train--makes it to an Oprah House where Nate rendezvous with our brunette bombshell Kestrel. Nate hands a ticket to a coat check girl & Kestrel all dolled up waltzes across the room saying "Thank you for my coat. I've been expecting you" & she proceeds to kiss him passionately on the lips. Darn, that's quite the greeting honey. It sure beats a customary handshake that's for sure. How do you sign up for that detail? KP 2.0? Just joking! At any rate, Kestrel takes Nate & his men to an OSS Safe House known as Stuttgart West. It here when the men relax, sleep, smoke cigars, & exchange jokes back & forth. There's also a scene when Nate Burrows gets his leg patched up by Kestrel & she lets him watch as she takes a bath naked in a nearby room. In fact, this classical Beethoven song is playing in the background.
Does she want him to join her or is Kestrel just teasing him with forbidden fruit that he'll never get to sample? Eventually, she closes the door...But it took awhile....Kestrel knew exactly what she was doing.
Our film ends with the Americans freeing POWS from captivity; stealing the Atomic bomb on a truck away from the NAZIs, Nate taking a bullet in the chest to save Kestrel from getting shot by our big bad SS villain...Did I mention that Kestrel is more than just Dr. Dr. Luca Gruenewald's assistant? She's actually his flesh & blood biological daughter. An Allied UK bomb raid follows blowing up Germany's munitions factories & Nate Burrows is praised by Lt. Joe Conti for his bravery & successful mission.
I do have some questions though. Nate takes a bullet to his lower abdomen for Kestrel & he doesn't get the girl? Really? Perhaps her standards for a man are just a tad too high. How come in all war movies food can run low, ammo can run low, warm clothes can be insufficient but somehow all soldiers behind enemy lines always have a surplus of cigarettes. How is that even possible? It's not like in the middle of the field surrounded by trees & nature you can stroll over to the general store. And the next time somebody compares a simple errand to cheeseburgers, respectably decline to do it.
This picture did show a lot of German troops literally get run over. I did like the typical grenade throw into a NAZI jeep where the victim gives the audience a look of regret like man I knew I should have just stayed in bed today. Let's roll with a B- again since the director does make us root for Nate to make it & tanks getting blown up is a sight you rarely see in movies. Rest assured, there is the necessary scene or two regarding loss & taking a moment to remember the fallen as there should be in a film like this.