Picks and Pans Review: Uncommon Valor
In 1982, ex-Army colonel Bo Gritz tried to steal into Laos to rescue American POWs who he insisted were still being held captive. He failed, and in fact never produced any hard proof that Americans were still being held. This film is the story of what might have happened had he succeeded. Gene Hackman, an ex-Army colonel who believes his son is a POW, rounds up some of his son's buddies for the mission. Fred (The Right Stuff) Ward is a freaked-out combat veteran, Harold (An Officer and a Gentleman) Sylvester is a helicopter pilot turned hospital administrator, Tim (Car Wash) Thomerson another ex-helicopter pilot whose wife cheats on him, Reb (Yor) Brown a muscle-bound surfer and former explosives expert, and Randy "Tex" Cobb a real-life former boxer making his movie debut as a drugged-out biker. After a promising beginning, the plot becomes confusing, with the actors milling about. By the time they get to the rescue attempt, complete with blazing guns, blown-up bridges and some sensational helicopter footage, the movie has turned into a routine adventure whose only focus is violence. Despite the emotionally charged nature of the material and the movie's blatant appeal to jingoist fantasies, it is just another project that probably shouldn't have been attempted in the first place. (R)
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