Men Of Honor

"OK"

Men Of Honor Review


If the life of Carl Brashear, the first African-American to become a diver in the U.S. Navy, was really like it is depicted in the highly-scripted "Men of Honor," he would have seen coming, well in advance, every hardship he would ever have to face.

He'd have known whenever a bigot was going to shove him or called him a name. He'd have known when he'd meet the girl of his dreams. And he'd have gotten out of the way of that Russian sub which tangles his underwater gear in the climax of the third act.

It's hard to sit through "Men of Honor" without being pulled out of the story by the nagging feeling that creative license runs wild and unchecked throughout this blatantly fictionalized screenplay. But even if it is 110-percent predictable, the picture has two things going for it that help eke out a slight victory over its rigid, transparent structure -- solid performances from Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Save the few times Gooding does that bug-eyed thing where he's so bursting with integrity he looks as if he might cry, the actor turns in one of his most honest portrayals as Brashear, the son of a proud but dirt poor sharecropper, who joined the Navy in the 1950s and rose from lowly cook to master diver, one of the most dangerous jobs at sea.

How he got there is the crux of the plot. On a very hot day aboard the USS Hoist, Brashear watches the white sailors take a refreshing swim off the side of the ship and, against standing orders, jumps right in with them and swims to a nearby buoy with a white sailor giving chase. Visited in the brig by the captain, who is impressed with his speed, he's reassigned to duty as a rescue swimmer, which only whets his appetite for advancing his career in the face of adversity.

After watching Master Chief Navy Diver Billy Sunday (De Niro) don deep-sea gear (at the time this meant 290 lbs. of canvas suit and brass helmet) to rescue men from a downed helicopter, Brashear applies for dive school. He spends two years hounding Navy brass with letters before they let him into the program -- where he finds the irascible, racist Sunday in charge.

Persevering through a couple reels of harsh training, discrimination and the hatred of his fellow trainees, Brashear eventually earns the respect of Sunday -- a troubled, hard-drinking man who landed as a trainer at the diving school after being busted down in rank for insubordination.

De Niro instills Sunday (a fictional composite character) with exactly the right balance of rancor, veracity and virtue as he chomps on a corn cob pipe he says was given to him by Gen. Douglas MacArthur himself. Completely believable as a military man whose career moves backwards instead of forwards because of his attitude, De Niro lends a credibility that isn't apparent in the script to Sunday's slow turnaround regarding his most obstinate enlistee. When he gets busted down again -- this time for graduating Brashear when he's been ordered to flunk him -- it's a simple, unadorned moment because De Niro refuses to let it become the kind of scene where the soundtrack swells and cymbals crash in cinematic triumph. (Thanks also to composer Mark Isham for keeping himself in check.)

The story arc of "Men of Honor" only has one curveball, which comes in the shapely form of a minor subplot about Sunday's stormy relationship with his beautiful, much younger wife (Charlize Theron in a knockout performance of powerful emotion). Otherwise director George Tillman, Jr. ("Soul Food") never paints outside the lines, especially when it comes to the film's under-developed primary romance between Brashear and his wife Jo (Aunjanue Ellis).

But the only consequential problems with this movie (aside from its innocuous, uninspired title) are the glaring moments of obtrusive fabrication. Brashear may have been sent to the ocean floor to look for a nuclear bomb lost at sea in 1966, but you can be absolutely sure it wasn't broadcast live on TV. A lost nuke at the height of the cold war would have been the best-kept secret in the military.



Men Of Honor

Facts and Figures

Run time: 129 mins

In Theaters: Friday 10th November 2000

Box Office USA: $46.2M

Box Office Worldwide: $48.8M

Budget: $32M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Fox 2000 Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 41%
Fresh: 43 Rotten: 62

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: George Tilman,

Starring: as Master Chief Leslie W. Sunday ('Billy'), Cuba Gooding Jr. as Senior Chief Carl Brashear, as Gwen Sunday, as Jo, as 'Mr. Pappy', Michael Rapport as GM1 Snowhill, as Captain Pullman, as Captain Hartigan, as Chief Floyd

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.