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  Saints and Soldiers Behind Enemy Lines
Year: 2003
Director: Ryan Little
Stars: Corbin Allred, Alexander Polinsky, Kirby Heyborne, Larry Bagby, Peter Asle Holden, Ethan Vincent, Melinda Renee, Ruby Chase O'Neill
Genre: WarBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: It is the height of the Second World War in Europe, and the Allies have just discovered the remains of a German massacre of American troops in Belgium. Three weeks earlier, these troops had been captured by the Nazis who were searching them and treating them badly until one soldier tried to make a break for the trees. He was shot dead in the back, which sparked great unrest amongst the Americans, leading to most of them being killed - but a handful get away in a dramatic escape, managing to hide in the dense, snowy, freezing cold forest. Now they must try their best to get back behind Allied lines, but it's not going to be easy...

The list of Mormon war movies isn't a long one, but Saints and Soldiers would be included, although it doesn't wear its relgion on its sleeve, despite what the title might hint at. It was scripted by Geoffrey Panos and Matt Whitaker, and presumably hoped to be mentioned in the same breath as Saving Private Ryan, but it's actually more like a World War II propaganda movie. It resembles films such as Battleground with its snowbound European setting (Utah stood in for Belgium), but even Battleground is a harder hitting watch than this, as commendably good looking as it is on a low budget.

Our heroes are four U.S. soldiers who unwillingly have to set out on a journey to safety. They fit the profiles of the type of stock characters you might find in a war-themed comic book, with the bitter medic, Gould (Alexander Polinsky) who hates all things German, the tough heavy, Kendrick (Larry Bagby), the also tough but fair Sergeant Gunderson (Peter Asle Holden) who takes the shell shocked younger soldier, Deacon (Corbin Allred), who just happens to be a superb sniper, under his wing. Deacon is the Mormon, as we know because he carries a Bible with him and makes mention of being a missionary in Berlin, which is where he learned to speak German.

While they are hiding out in an abandoned house that night, they hear a plane crash and go to investigate. They find a freshly parachuted British pilot hanging from a tree, and he turns out to be a "What ho, chaps! Chocks away!" Biggles type of R.A.F. man by the none more English name of Oberon Winley (you can't move for Oberons here in the United Kingdom, I can tell you). Winley (Kirby Heyborne) is on a mission to relay essential information about the German military movements, and now the group have an extra special reason to reach their destination. It's all pretty straightforward, and generally wins you over with its decency and stouthearted yet tragedy-hued derring do, but there's little here you couldn't have gleaned from the sixty years of Second World War movies preceding this one. Music by J Bateman and Bart Hendrickson.

[Metrodome's new Region 2 Special Edition DVD includes a commentary with the director, an actors commentary and the military advisor to the movies commentary along with a "making of" documentary along with an in-depth look at the tragic events that inspired the film.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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