Time: 142 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Academy Award nominations for Best Film Editing, Score and Original Story.
This is one of those films that doesn't have much of a plot, but what's there, thanks to wonderful performances, draws you in and knocks your socks off. Flynn gives one of his deepest and most subtle turns as an Air Force captain who faces huge odds and even greater sacrifices in an effort to save the lives of his men. Their mission was supposed to be cut and dried: parachute into Japanese-controlled Burma, destroy their main radar station and march to an abandoned air field to be picked up and returned to base camp. All goes well, until they reach the strip where a platoon of very angry Japanese soldiers are waiting to deliver some payback. Forced to make their way through the thick jungle, they are at the mercy of their superiors to keep them supplied with food, water and ammo while they attempt to stay healthy and elude the enemy.
Many lives are lost along the way, each of them a stab at your heart and a deflation of hope. Sure, some of them, including Flynn are going to get out alive, but their struggle isn't easy, giving one a profound respect for the men who fight for our freedom. Along with the inevitable despair, there's plenty of action to keep the pace moving. The men hold their own in ways that are exciting and believable. Most of the men in this company are characters that are all too familiar, yet their deaths affect you like they're a member of your own family. They do their job with courage, humor and a deep sense of camaraderie. There's no subtext here, just regular guys doing the best job they can and that makes this picture all the more enjoyable.
Like most films made during WWII about WWII, the events are depicted with a pro-Allied bias that is slightly hard to swallow 50+ years later. Our boys slaughtering the platoon at the radar station without warning is heroic, the Japanese gunning down armed American soldiers is considered
heinous. Just in case that doesn't make them evil enough in the eyes of the audience, the Japanese torture our decent, freedom loving boys for good measure (and to extract information). Oh well, that's Hollywood for you. I have the feeling most viewers won't be bothered by this contradiction since these films were made to bolster American confidence in the war effort and make our soldiers into heroes, which this story does quite well. Unlike some films in this genre, OBJECTIVE, BURMA! resists pathos, portraying a straightforward, honest, exciting and heart-wrenching tale of a mission gone wrong. Flynn's subtle, strong and caring performance makes it must see for fans of his and the genre.