When I first talked to Nick Palmiscano about writing a review of this movie, I mentioned to him that I knew I would need to watch it at least twice because I was sure I would miss something. Based on the trailers I had seen, stories I had heard, and just knowing some of the people involved like Nick Palmisciano, Tommy Amenta, Tim Kennedy, and Jack Mandaville to name a few, I was confident I would be laughing pretty hard. Needless to say I was not let down in this area.
So I have watched the film twice now, and yes there were things I saw in the second viewing that I had missed the first time. Some of those misses were because I was laughing pretty hard, but also many times it was because I was in a minor state of shock of what I was seeing on the screen. When Nick and Ross state they have offended just about everyone in this film, to include toddlers, they were not kidding. Nobody is safe in this film, just like in the military, everyone is fair game.
If I were to try and describe this movie in a way most could relate to; think of it as Beavis and Butthead meet The Dirty Dozen. Sprinkle in there a ton of F-bombs, jokes about people with disabilities, jokes on people with weight issues, jokes about….hell, pretty much jokes about anything, anyone or any group of people that Political Correctness tries to prevent. Lets not pull punches here, or penises (because that happens in the movie too) if you are not in the military, haven’t been in the military or don’t have the same sick sense of humor that those who have served have, you will probably either be offended or not get 80% of the jokes or references in this movie. There are multiple references and tributes to some of the most iconic films (mostly comedy) in our pop culture. Some are obvious and others are subtle, which is another reason to see this movie more than once.
Nick states the following in an interview “This movie is for the veteran community, it’s not for anybody else if they don’t want it to be. I hope many people enjoy it, I hope it becomes a big hit….but if it doesn’t and if the only thing that happens is that our community (veteran) has a movie they love, then we succeeded…everyone else can really go Fu$k themselves”. So as a Army brat who was born at Ft. Bragg, then served 22 years myself and also as a father of a veteran combat medic, I more than qualify to say this film was made for me. In fact that statement by Nick could not be more true in its message. This is a film made by veterans and for veterans. I think almost everyone in it, except for a few cameos, are veterans.
Those who have served, especially the ones in combat roles, have a very dark senses of humor. When you drop young men in a third-world shit-hole and ask them to kill the enemy with extreme violence without a second thought, and then in the next second ask them to hand out a beanie baby, put a band-aid on a little girl or try to establish governance; the only way to maintain your sanity is to have dark humor. You have to laugh at some of the worse situations in order to not allow them to infect your sanity or distort your sense of morals.
This type of dark humor is what carries this movie. Lets be honest here, this is not going to be an Oscar contender, nor did the guys who created this film think it would be. If American Sniper could not get an Oscar nod with all the box-office records it broke, then there is no way this film will get one. However, it could very well get a nomination for an FX Guys Choice or MTV Movie award. If there was an award category for the “most offensive” movie, then this movie would probably be the only nominee because I don’t think anything else could even get close.
There are no shortages of cameos and short appearances by well-known faces and names in the military community. Besides the obvious Nick Palmisciano and Mat Best who are the two main stars of the movie, the movie starts with Alex Skarlatos (French Train Hero Army Soldier) getting screamed at and it continues from there with Marcus Luttrell (Lone Survivor), Medal of Honor recipients Clint Romesha and Leroy Petry, and of course famed UFC fighter and Special Forces bad-ass Tim Kennedy, doing what he does best.
Needless to say, Nick and Mat took the huge amounts of money they made on the 4th largest Kickstarter campaign ever for a independent movie to attract some other well-known Hollywood talent like William Shatner, Keith David, Sean Astin, Jim O’Hier, Dany Trejo, and military veteran and actor Dale Dye. Each one of them was casted perfectly, which says a lot because the word on the street is a lot of Hollywood agents would not even allow their clients to see the script, much less consider it. So a big salute to the actors who did take part as they said “screw political correctness” and based on what I saw in the documentary about the film all of them were humbled to be part of such a unique project. A double-salute to writer, director and actor in this movie, Ross Patterson who I never knew about before the film but is someone I will never forget.
With all of those famed names in the military and hollywood communities, there were some that aren’t as well known who will be after this movie premiers. Jack Mandaville from Ranger-Up and Vincent Vargas and Jarred Taylor from Article-15 clothing were all stand-outs in the film. Even though their company front-men, Nick and Mat (respectively) were the main stars, Jack, Vincent and Jarred all did a great job in carrying scenes, popping one-liners and stretching their acting and comedy skills to make some scenes side-splitting funny. Jack sacrificed every bit of dignity that he may have possibly possessed to be the stand-out idiot of the film, portraying such a goofy screw-up that the viewer actually comes to love his character, even if it just out of pity.
In summary and to be blunt, this movie truly looks like a bunch of grunts sat around one weekend, got hammered and started coming up with ideas for what they think would be the ultimate bad-ass movie. Oh and throw $1.5 million into their pockets to afford some crazy props, scenes and over-the-top special effects. So if that sounds like a weekend you would have loved to been at, then this movie is definitely for you.
If this review was not informative enough, maybe the official red-band trailer below will do it.