JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Operation Commando; Men Go to Battle (Directors: Jan Czarlewski, Zachary Treitz) - December 31, 2016
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Operation Commando; Men Go to Battle

4.5 4.5
119 min.

Short full of promise; feature not so much

Operation Commando
Jan Czarlewski
2016, 21 min.
Four and one half stars

In a very short space of time, Czarlewski covers a lot of ground with this tale of brotherly love turned on its head.

Roman, (Roman Grosso has just the right angelic look) dotes on his elder brother, Milo (Milo Breda succinctly proves he can yell with the best of them). All goes well at their summer camp until staff decide their charges would benefit from some war games, in this case Indians versus Commandos. The objectives: protect/capture the totem pole and take as many prisoners as possible along the way.

When the boys, after being divided at random, end up on opposite teams, there’s a torrent of anger and tears at the thought of a two-day separation. Appeals to their leaders are summarily denied.

No worries! Milo plans to escape from the Commandos and rescue his delicate sibling.

But the film soon veers into the path of social commentary as the Commandos are taught to espouse their motto: “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Later they collectively vow to stuff their adversaries’ feathers where the sun doesn’t shine. For their part, the Indians gleefully apply war paint and whoop to their hearts’ delight.

As the skirmishes begin, it’s hard to pick a winner—nor does it matter. When the two brothers meet again face-to-face, the transformation of their relationship, at first, is difficult to believe until it is recalled that impressionable minds around the planet can begin doing extraordinary things once they taste the heady elixir of power and control over another: family or not.


Men Go to Battle
Zachary Treitz
2015, 98 min.
Four and one half stars

This pair of brothers (Tim Morton as Henry, David Maloney as Francis) reside in 1861 Kentucky, trying to make a living off the land. Providing the slight love interest is Betsy (Rachel Korine), the flirtatious daughter of the nearby town’s moneyed merchant.

Relations between the siblings deteriorate to the point where Henry—having had enough of his bro’s practical jokes, drunkenness and reckless purchases—vanishes: preferring the real chance of death in the Union Army to an empty life at home (where even his attempt at a kiss on the veranda goes terribly wrong).

The pacing is so slow that the mind soon begins to wander as much as Henry after unbelievably surviving the bloodbath at Perryville. For many, many minutes Francis is out of the picture which only serves to weaken the inevitable reunion, then the start of incredible journey II.

In the end, it is hard to care for either man, which may well leave some viewers wondering, “What was the point of it all?” JWR

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