Australian director Gregor Jordan makes his sophomore effort with this tale about crooked U.S. soldiers based in Germany during the waning days of the cold war. Special Fourth Class soldier Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) guards against the Soviets while on duty, and rips off the U.S. military while off duty. Handsome, calculating, and thoroughly amoral, Elwood runs a profitable black-market business that operates just below the official radar. He and his associates make drugs to sell to his fellow GIs; steal Army supplies, selling them to a German connection; and a host of other dirty deeds. One day, he and his gang uncover some loot that will land them some real money -- high-tech military weaponry. As they try to quietly offload the stuff, the new sergeant, Robert K. Lee (Scott Glenn), catches on to Elwood's nefarious deeds and sets out to put him out of businesses. Elwood, in turn, catches on to the fact that Lee has a very attractive daughter (Anna Paquin) and sets out to bed her. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide
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Theatrical Feature Running Time: 99 mins
Buffalo Soldiers (2001)
Watched this with a close relative and she asked if I thought it was anything close to reality. Truly a fictional account but still has elements that appear in any bureaucracy especially government run. Some of the same elements are shown on a more benign level in films like "M*A*S*H" with Radar being similar to efficient Elwood. For example Radar in the last Mash episode I watched he got his CO to sign off a discharge for a sheep that the Greeks has donated to the unit for a party. Radar may have not been doing it for malicious reasons but still he was doing it for personal and not to the betterment of his unit. Stripes also comes to mind about this sentiment of the US military but more with regards to peace time operations.
Before watching the film I came across this: An Interview With Gregor Jordan.
MOVIE CITY NEWS: I imagine that one of the complaints you'll hear about Buffalo Soldiers is that it's just another attempt by Hollywood liberals to slander our proud fighting men and women. Guilty or not guilty?
GREGOR JORDAN: I grew up on an Air Force base in Australia, where my father was a pilot. He fought in Vietnam, so I grew up on war stories and around soldiers.
I don't see this film as anti-American or anti-military. It poses some interesting philosophical questions about warfare, aggression and the need for violence by certain people ... I think that idea really translates well in these characters.
MCN: Obviously, then, you don't see Buffalo Soldiers as being hopelessly dated by the swirl of events in Iraq and Afghanistan?
GJ: It's of its time, yes, but I think the film actually is way more topical now, than it was before. It says that war and warfare are things certain human beings really like and want.
There are warlike people out there who are aggressive and expansionist. Those ideals of the '60s and '70s - you know, "give peace a chance" - seem to be overly romantic.
MCN: That's a fairly extreme notion, especially for a Hollywood movie.
GJ: Warfare is something quite innate in humans ... war was invented way before diplomacy. Today, it is seen as this weird aberration, which only happens when diplomacy breaks down ... and no one really wants war.
This movie suggests that there are people out there who do. This may be a pessimistic viewpoint, but I think it's a fact.
I would say this is anti-military in the least. Mainly for the basic fact that it paints the military as not capable of being just a standing army and has to resort to self destruction. But I put that aside since it does have an important message about failure to value the standing army in peace times as well as war times.
Still worth watching it overall. Rating: 3.5 (/5)