"It's a free country, mostly..."
Men of Honor
Review by Ross Anthony

Though racist mentalities (and other obstacles) constantly try to put a stop to Cuba's undying determination to become a master chief diver; in the spirit of the Energizer bunny ... Cuba just keeps going and going and going.

The title "Men of Honor" fades onto the screen over tremendous waves at high sea. As the Men of Honorwaves topple, the brass instruments blare ... foretelling the melodrama to follow. It's a bit of a hokie film, but compelling nonetheless.

Headbutting a couple of Navy MP's in the introductory sequence, De Niro wastes no time in taking command of the screen. His character is rich with unpredictability, honor, and rebellion. And of course, he's an awesome actor. Cuba's character, on the other hand, offers little surprise after he grows from a boy into a man who simply will not run out of battery power until he achieves Navy diver's highest rank. Cuba's acting is very good, but forever in De Niro's shadow.

Michael Rapaport, who's been in just about every release this year (seems like), Forest Gumps his way into this one as the only white trainee who sympathizes with Cuba.

I might have really loved this picture save for one too many jammed pulleys. There's also a problem of motivation in one tavern "tough guy to tough guy" scene. Cuba had just learned of some very sad news that prompted him to call the woman he fancied. While waiting for her to arrive, Charlize Theron shows up and coaxes him into the tavern conflict with a simple line or two. Seems to me, a man of Cuba's conviction wouldn't risk it all so easily. Perhaps a few moments were cut, leaving a gap in believability.

Lastly, the film ends with text when it should have ended with images. That said, "Men of Honor," based on the life of Carl Brashear, is still a big movie with big acting, beautiful production work and kick-in-the-pants inspiration.

  • Men of Honor. Copyright © 2000. Rated R.
  • Starring Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Charlize Theron, Aunjanue Ellis, Hal Holbrook, Michael Rapaport, Powers Boothe, David Keith.
  • Directed by George Tillman, Jr.
  • Written by Scott Marshall Smith based upon the life of Carl Brashear.
  • Produced by Robert Teitel, Bill Badalato at 20th Century Fox.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:03:25 PDT