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Movie Reviews

Men Of Honor  

Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding, Jr.)
Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro)
Gwen (Charlize Theron)
Mister Pappy (Hal Holbrook)
Snowhill (Michael Rappaport)

Directed by George Tillman, Jr. Written by Scott Marshall Smith
Rated R for language and violence Running Time: 128 minutes Distributed by 20th Century Fox
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Men of Honor is an accurate inspirational story of heroism. The film is a biopic about Carl Brashear and his strive to be the first African American Navy diver. Brashear was a sharecropper’s young son who enlisted into the Navy during the 1950’s. Even though his father didn’t want him to go, he stood by his son saying, “Don’t give up on me boy, you stand in there and fight Carl!” A few years pass and Carl comes to a decision that he wants to be a master diver instead of a shipmate. Even though it is supposedly a newly integrated Navy of race, it takes Carl two years and over hundreds of letters to get enlisted into diving school. He reports to diving school only to find more roadblocks, one in particular being his training officer Billy Sunday (De Niro). Sunday is a hard nose and egotistical instructor that expects the best out of every one. For him, Brashear is another story, because Sunday doesn’t believe in what he is trying to accomplish. However, Carl takes this as a challenge and yearns to prove Sunday and everybody else wrong.

This is a super film that everybody should see. It hits on a lot of problems with race and trust from the 50’s to now, but it also parallels these issues with hope and heroics.

Scott Marshall Smith’s script about the real life character of Carl Brashear seems to be mostly accurate and well written. After doing some research, I found out that a few things about Brashear’s life were changed in the script for better structure, but nothing too pivotal. An example is that the character Billy Sunday is actually comprised of two of Brashear’s instructors. I guess a point that I am getting at is that the writing in this biopic isn’t changed to make the story’s central character the greatest being, like what happened in last year’s The Hurricane. Even though Billy Sunday is comprised of two characters, he is still the farce in this film. Sunday, for most of the film, is the antagonist for Brashear though his journey to become a Navy diver. The script also works well with covering almost 40 years of Brashear’s life in a little over two hours. Your eyes will be glued to the screen. George Tillman, Jr. does a nice job of directing the film. Tillman captures the life of this American hero by presenting the film with simplicity. Tillman uses some underwater sets and special effects in the film to help contribute to how it feels to be an underwater Navy diver. He presents the story very understandably as well.

Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding, Jr. deliver great performances in this film. De Niro is fiery and unpredictable the whole film as Billy Sunday. I have a very close friend in the Navy and he told me that De Niro’s character and performance is an exact replica of most real life instructors. Gooding, Jr. serves up his best performances since he won an Oscar for Jerry Maguire. He has some the best eyes in the business and is a bundle of energy that is nothing short of a joy to watch. Charlize Theron has small but fine role as Billy Sunday’s estranged wife. The rest of the cast is stable, but nothing compared to the acting of De Niro and Gooding, Jr.

Men of Honor is a film I recommend seeing, you will not be disappointed by the motivational real life tale of Carl Brashear.

Beastman’s Movie Reviews
Copywright, 2000 Joseph C. Tucker

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