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Thursday, October 20, 2011

MAX MANUS: MAN OF WAR (2008)

Don’t look for a post-modern ironic edge or sickly comic ultra-violence in this tru-life tale on the Norwegian resistance heroes of WWII. Joachin Rønning & Espen Sandberg’s film is as square & straightforward as a Baby-Boomer war epic, and with much the same positive charge; more GUNS OF NAVARONE/’61 than INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS/’09. Max Manus was already a vet from fighting Stalin on the Finland front when he returned home to find Norway occupied by the Nazis. He was soon caught in the early days of the resistance, but made a legendary escape crashing thru a third story window. (The actual escape happened from the hospital where he was being treated after the blind jump.) Trained in Scotland, he returned to Norway where he effectively ran the expanding resistance movement even as his tight group started to fall under pressure from Nazis and local collaborators. The film’s story construction occasionally veers from solid to stolid, and the action scenes don’t always hit their full potential, but the story generates so much power & good will, and raw emotion in the last act, that you’ll feel like cheering rather than nit-picking.

DOUBLE-BILL: Errol Flynn & Ann Sheridan joined the Norwegian Resistance (Hollywood Division) in Lewis Milestone’s remarkably tough & effective EDGE OF DARKNESS/’43.

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