Details: (MA15+), 98 mins, United Kingdom, English
Synopsis: Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) takes advantage of his position in the US Army based in West Germany in 1989, to run a profitable trade in drugs and the black market. His superior officer Colonel Berman (Ed Harris) is a pussy-cat and Ray knows exactly how to handle him. But when the new, fearsome Sergeant Lee (Scott Glenn) arrives wanting to run things by the book, Ray sees trouble. When bribery gets him nowhere, Ray tries a different tactic - dating Lee\'s attractive teenage daughter Robyn (Anna Paquin). But his timing couldn\'t be worse, with one of his local suppliers demanding a large payment on a deal gone wrong.
Offers an intelligent and cynical depiction of the US military with an edge.
Germany in 1989. The soldiers at an American army base are bored out of their minds, as a result they're up to all kinds of illegal activities - black marketeering, drug peddling and so on. The most resourceful of them is Ray Elwood, Joaquin Phoenix, who is adept at pulling the wool over the eyes of his feeble commanding officer, Col. Berman, Ed Harris, while secretly having an affair with Berman's wife, Elizabeth McGovern. After some stoned GI's in charge of a tank cause a massive explosion which kills two truck drivers, Ray and his buddies take over the trucks the dead men were driving, which are full of high-tech weapons; big profits seem to be on the cards, until the arrival of a new top sergeant, Robert Lee, Scott Glenn, who seems determined to clean up illegal activity at the base. Ray responds by dating Lee's daughter, Robyn, Anna Paquin: big mistake.
Buffalo Soldiers was Gregor Jordan's second feature afterTwo Hands, and in many ways it's a remarkable achievement. Based on Robert O'Connor's scathing book, it's a film which may remind you of many other movies that were critical of the military – From Here To Eternity, M.A.S.H., Three Kings among them.
Joaquin Phoenix is excellent as the utterly amoral protagonist; Ray is so awful that at times this relentlessly bleak, yet often very funny, depiction of the U.S. military, is quite unnerving. These soldiers are completely ignorant about world affairs – they don't even know if they're in West or East Germany – and they're a danger to themselves and to others.
Unfortunately, this dark, witty film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 01: no wonder it's been shelved for two years. Jordan has made Ned Kelly since this, and has proved himself to be an intelligent and accomplished director.
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