Army Go Home (2002) (Germany), Buffalo Soldiers - Army Go Home! (2003) (Germany: DVD title)
Make money not war
Running Time: 98 minutes
UK Certificate: 15
Country: Germany, United Kingdom
Given the current political climate, its hardly surprising that this movie, seen by many as questioning both the intelligence and intentions of the U.S. military, hasnt exactly enjoyed massive popularity on the other side of the pond. The fact that it was first screened just days before 9/11 probably didnt do much to help its case either. Whats more, it takes some stretch of the imagination to excuse it as satire, considering the distinct lack of any real political statement underpinning the whole thing.
What really has to be asked is, does being badly timed automatically make Buffalo Soldiers a bad film? The answer, as far as this reviewer is concerned, has to be a resounding no. For what its worth, its not a great film either but thats probably beside the point.
Were in Germany, 1989, and Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) is a street-smart drug-peddler stuck doing three years of national service as a court-enforced alternative to prison. No dealing is too dirty for him, provided he can make a quick buck and, it would seem, hes got his commander (Ed Harris) eating out of the palm of his hand. But hes in for a sharp wake-up call when the hard-bitten Bob Lee (Scott Glenn) arrives on the scene as the companys new stringent sergeant. Down and give me twenty, or theres gonna be trouble! (Thats just one of the things he doesnt shout in this film).
As a story, Buffalo Soldiers is a little daft. The soldiers (and a certain sergeant, for that matter) seem able to behave however they like without even the slightest fear of disciplinary action, and the tale grows more and more far-fetched as it goes on. Thankfully, the performances are good enough that you should be just about able to put that to the back of your mind. Elwood is a nasty piece of work, but Phoenix plays him with an impressive quiet confidence. Anna Paquin, as the sergeants daughter, makes a convincing love interest/pawn, and looks every bit the big-time movie star shes now becoming. And look out for Dean Quantum Leap Stockwell, taking a break from his incessant work on the straight-to-TV circuit to play a grizzled general.
It's Got: Some nicely-placed comic relief from a constantly exasperated-looking Ed Harris.
It Needs: A bit of discipline. Is this the army or isnt it?!
DVD Extras No extras on this edition of the DVD, though if youre prepared to sit through the trailers at the start youll come across a great little animated short about democracy and how it works. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10
Alternatives:Catch-22, Full Metal Jacket, Three Kings
A bit like the joke Whats the difference between a buffalo and a bison?, try not to take this film too seriously. The answer, in case youre wondering, is You cant wash your face in a buffalo.