HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Iceman
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
Pittsburgh
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Fatman
   
 
Newest Articles
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
   
 
  Breakthrough War is a drag, especially for Richard Burton
Year: 1979
Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
Stars: Richard Burton, Rod Steiger, Robert Mitchum, Helmut Griem, Klaus Löwitsch, Michael Parks, Werner Pocath, Veronique Vendell, Curd Jürgens, Horst Janson, Joachim Hansen, Walter Ullrich, Dieter Schidor, Bruno Dietrich, Sonja Jeannine, Günter Clemens
Genre: WarBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: May, 1944. As German forces retreat from the eastern front, hardened combat veteran Sergeant Steiner (Richard Burton), acting on the orders of his old adversary, Major Stransky (Helmut Griem), heads a mission to destroy a tunnel before it is breached by the enemy. Through no fault of his own, they fail but witnessing so much unnecessary death has Steiner convinced the war is all but lost. After a short furlough in Paris, he rejoins the army at the western front where he is recruited for a very secret assignment. It happens the similarly disenchanted General Hofmann (Curd Jürgens) is involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. At his behest Steiner passes the message on to American Colonel Rogers (Robert Mitchum) that upon the Führer's death the German army will negotiate a truce. Rogers relays the message to his superiors hoping to ensure a ceasefire, but then the assassination fails.

Also known as Steiner: Das Eiserne Kreuz Teil II or plain old Sergeant Steiner, Breakthrough was the sequel to Cross of Iron (1977). Set on the Russian front, Sam Peckinpah's original war movie adopted the unusual and, at the time, controversial perspective of the German side in World War II. The film was poorly received in America, where by then Peckinpah's reputation was on the wane, yet proved an enormous hit in Germany. Hence German backers led by exploitation movie mogul Wolf C. Hartwig hired Andrew V. McLaglen, another western turned war film specialist albeit with a radically different style, to direct the sequel. Given McLaglen had only recently made an imitation Peckinpah western in The Last Hard Men (1976) co-starring Cross of Iron's lead actor James Coburn, sequelizing an actual Peckinpah movie must have seemed like the next logical step. Of course it should come as no surprise that despite aping the grimy mud, blood and guts realism of Peckinpah's film, McLaglen musters not one ounce of his psychological depth, philosophical angst or poetic surrealist carnage.

Whereas Peckinpah sought to engage the audience in the plight of the doomed, conflicted, war-weary German soldiers, Breakthrough exudes the emotional detachment of your average nuts-and-bolts, spectacle driven war adventure. The plot has a lot of promise sadly squandered by slack direction and a sloppy script which clumsily recycles elements that worked first time around. McLaglen had access to resources Peckinpah was denied and though his battle scenes are nowhere as visceral throws in plenty of gunfire, explosions and big scale action. Which would be fine were the film better paced and not borderline incoherent. Shoddy editing with lots of over-dubs suggest this was hastily re-assembled in post-production where characters and sub-plots fell by the wayside. There are times when Breakthrough comes across like three different war films stitched together by a blind monkey. At one point it briefly becomes "Sergeant Steiner Takes a Holiday" as while in Paris he wines, dines and sleeps with Stransky's French girlfriend who is never mentioned again.

Not helping matters is the indifferent presence of Richard Burton, sadly not at his best. Reunited with McLaglen after The Wild Geese (1978), Burton felt he was miscast and sneers his dialogue having seemingly given up trying to engage viewers at all. On the American side, Robert Mitchum just about gets by on his trademark laconic cool though he too flirts with boredom, sleepwalking through dull confrontations with scenery-chewing eccentric General Webster (Rod Steiger) though he at least has a tragicomic double act going on with Michael Parks as wisecracking Sergeant Anderson. With so much lethargy on screen the underlining moral message ends up mistranslated. Not so much "war is hell" as man, war is a drag. At least McLaglen wrings a few drops of suspense from the finale that has Rogers and Anderson race into enemy territory to prevent bloodshed while Steiner grapples with the ever ambitious Stransky (still vying for his iron cross, having learned nothing from back when he was portrayed by Maximilian Schell) who schemes to literally blow their one chance at peace. The lead anti-hero's outrage over Stransky's use of innocent civilians to mask a deadly trap is one area where the sequel stays true to the original themes, but again things get muddled when Steiner ends up simultaneously gunning down Americans while fighting to save their lives. Also worth singling out for disdain is the bizarre score by Peter Thomas that sounds like a space age easy listening track from a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. What was going on there?

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2355 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: