Casablanca Express (1988)
Casablanca Express is a low-budget, low-quality Italian action movie from famed director Sergio Martino. It's got a lame plot, horrible dialogue, and annoyingly bad actors, just the sort of thing I love to watch. Filmed in Morocco and Italy, it tries hard pose as a World War II action film, but fails in almost every respect.
Released in 1988 in Italy, and then to American markets in 1989, Casablanca Express found its way onto a cheap-ass DVD compilation of "war movies" that I bought at Wal-Mart for under $6. The 90-minute movie is only 16-years old, so the film and sound quality are just fine, tons better than the 50-year old movies I'm used to reviewing.
Sergio Martino has innumerable directorial credits, but some of the most notable for me are 1986's Atomic Cyborg and 1983's 2019: After the Fall of New York , both classics of the post-apocalyptic genre. He also directed a number of porno movies in the 1970s…but I have never seen any of those. Really. His work in our movie is probably fairly indicative of his general skill, which isn't saying much.
And now on to our show...
We open in Algeria, in North Africa in November of 1942. A little historical perspective here. In 1942, Algeria was part of "Vichy France", formed after France rolled over to the Germans in 1940. The area was technically independent of Nazi rule, but was crawling with German businessmen, officials and sympathizers. There was also a large contingent of Vichy French military men, who were often led by German officers. Being a nominally independent nation, there were also Embassies for various other, allied countries, including the USA. Like the Soviet Embassy in Washington during the Cold War, this place was a haven for spies and sneaky deals.
First, we might as well meet Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England, here played by British actor John Evans, who does have a striking physical similarity to Churchill. The actor really tries to mimic Churchill's distinctive voice patterns, and seems to do fairly well. The character of Churchill in this movie never rises above the level of a McGuffin, so it's hard to judge the quality of the performance. I don't know why this bothers me, but when people talk to him in this movie they call him "Mister Churchill" and not "Mister Prime Minister". That just seems wrong, and since they do almost every time, I have to say it's deliberate for some reason.
About the best frame of Churchill.
Churchill is here in Algeria at the US Embassy, meeting with a gaggle of high-ranking military officers, all of whom will play roles in this movie. Don't get too excited, though, once the shooting starts on the train they get less and less screen time. This movie has an extraordinary amount of initial character development and lead-up to the train action, most of it lame and confusing. It's as if the multiple scriptwriters (never a good sign) couldn't make up their minds what the first 30 minutes of the movie were supposed to be about. I guess this all serves to introduce us to the characters, but so many of these people will only play tiny roles once the shooting starts that it just seems like wasted effort. Let's meet two of these officers, shall we?
US Army Major General Williams is played by 72-year old Glenn Ford. Ford, already a household name, was at the far tailing end of his impressive career by 1988. I particularly remember him as the President in the classic 1980 Japanese horror movie Virus and Admiral Spruance from 1976's Midway . Ford is clearly embarrassed and disgusted to be in this crappy movie, and I wonder if he signed a contract without reading the script first, or was screwed by his agent. At times he seems to be trying to give a quality read, but most of the time he's clearly mailing it in.
French Army Major Valmore, played by famous French actor Jean Sorel, who looks strikingly like Robert Vaughn (!). He also seems quite embarrassed to be in this movie, and I wonder if he went to his trailer every night with a bottle of Jack and a loaded pistol, stumbling out every morning and cursing his own cowardice in not pulling the trigger.
These officers are all working on a way to get Churchill to Casablanca for a vital meeting with American president Roosevelt. Indeed, in real life, Churchill met Roosevelt for a conference at Casablanca in January of 1943. Roosevelt flew in, as did Churchill. The whole business with Churchill having to take a train later is "creative license".
Much talk here is devoted to the dangers of Churchill taking a plane from Algeria to Casablanca, mostly about the fear of sabotage by German Agents. But it's still considered the safest option. The plan is to secret him on a regular cargo flight to avoid detection.
To provide close-in security and troubleshooting, the Generals call in a pair of "counter-espionage agents" to ride shotgun with Churchill. These are Brit Alan Cooper and American Captain Franchetti.
Cooper is played by 25-year old Jason Connery. As the name might imply, he's the son of 007 Sean Connery. He didn't inherit his father's acting ability, however, and his career has mostly been a bust. The only thing I can remember seeing him in was 2000's Shanghai Noon . He's a good-looking blonde-haired man, about 6-foot tall, though rather slight of build. He's not at all hulking like his father, or your typical action hero, relying more on his wits and skill than brute strength.
Franchetti is played by 26-year old Francesco Quinn. He's the son of famous actor Anthony Quinn. Like Jason Connery, Francesco Quinn never really had a career to match his famous father's. He was in 1986's Platoon , where he was quite good, but that's the only thing I can remember seeing him in.
From the first time we meet these two men, we are instantly reminded that this is 1988 and Miami Vice was ruling network TV. In Italy, the series was very popular in the late 1980s, and numerous Italian crime dramas of the era ripped-off the themes and look of Miami Vice . The characters of Cooper and Franchetti are oh-so meant to be copies of Crockett and Tubbs, albeit cheap pale imitations lacking that flair and style that made Johnson and Vincent such an impressive combination. Cooper/Crockett is a white man who thinks with his dick and his gun, likes to wear pastel, linen suits and has a perpetually stubbled face. Franchetti/Tubbs is a dark-skinned Latino who is more thoughtful and careful and always well-groomed and conservatively dressed. It has yet to be determined if Franchetti sings...
So now we follow Crockett as he goes back to his hotel in the city. We see that his girlfriend is taking a shower as he comes in. The girl is apparently with the British military, perhaps in the MI5 branch as she seems to be doing a lot of spy stuff later on. Aw, how nice, they always say that the couple that spies together, stays together. I am a little disturbed by the length of Crockett's tie, however, were long ties in fashion in 1942?
The girl in the shower is British Army Lieutenant Lorna Fisher, played by Jinny Steffan, who is about 25-years old or so. While Italian, Steffan speaks English with a heavy British accent. She's a fairly attractive woman, with an athletic body and heavily-styled blonde hair. She's also an inch or so taller than Crockett and nearly as tall as Tubbs, though her high heels might make the difference on film.
We get a little play-love scene here, where Crockett goes and surprises her in the shower and then they tickle and smootch a bit. Neither actor really sells this scene, but they probably just met each other two days before filming this scene, and their forced romance is obvious throughout this whole movie. It's the sign of a cheap movie when leads are called upon to act like a loving couple when they've just met each other. Good actors can pull it off, but these c-list names struggle to make it seem real.
We do get a glimpse of Lorna's impressive breasts here! They are small, but perky and bounce nicely as she and Crockett wrestle around. This is the 41st movie review I have done for the Million Monkey Theater, and this is the very first openly bare breast in any of those movies, which just shows you the type of movies I normally review.
Don't blink, you'll miss the boobie!
Anyway, they discover that someone has bugged their room! Someone in the adjacent room has run a microphone line through the wall, which Crockett finds when they tip over the phone while wrestling. They fake leaving the room, and watch out the crack as an Arab man leaves the adjacent room and runs down to the street. Crocket gives chase while Lorna checks out the man's room. In a strangely sexy scene, she hikes her skirt up and side kicks the door open! There she finds the recorder and follows the line into the closet and through the wall.
Out in the crowded street, Crockett spies the man talking with two other Arabs. They spot him as well, and flee on foot. Giving chase, Crockett tries to keep up with them as they weave and bob through the throngs of milling shoppers and merchants. The musical score here is really annoying, a blend of synthesizers and horns that seems to be a mishmashed rip-off of Indiana‘s theme from The Raiders of the Lost Ark .
At the same time, we see that Tubbs has arrived at the hotel, presumably to check on Crockett. He's riding a classic 1940s Harley Davidson, which is cool. He hooks up with Lorna and they both give chase to Crockett. Ok, just a few minutes before, Lorna was soaking wet and half-dressed, but now she's wearing her class A uniform, pinned-down hat and crème-colored hose included, with make-up and hair perfect! Anyway, they give chase. Tubbs gets rough with a few street vendors who get in his way, smacking two of them in the face hard with thrown elbows. Hey, the poor guys were just trying to make a living here!
Crockett, meanwhile, is having his own problems with the locals, who the fleeing Arabs have told to impede him. Crockett manages to push his way through, however, and eventually catches up with the three Arabs, who have entered an abandoned building. Crockett spies the men talking with a tall German, who he instantly recognizes as the "head of German Intelligence in Africa". This is Otto Von Tiblis, played by 44-year old German actor Manfred Lehmann. I'm just going to call him the "German Agent".
The German Agent.
Crockett emerges from the shadows, pistol drawn, and confronts the German Agent. Suddenly, an Arab leaps on top of Crockett. Wow, it's like they had the dude jump on a trampoline just off-camera! He literally flies in six feet off the ground to tackle Crockett. The German Agent pulls his Luger, but strangely doesn't shoot Crockett. The other Arabs draw knives and approach Crockett, looking to skewer him.
Just then Tubbs arrives, his own pistol out. The German Agent fires a shot at him, forcing him to duck. He then turns and shoots one of the Arab guys (!) before running off to escape. The remaining Arabs also hightail it out of there, but not before one of them clocks Crockett over the head with a board (ouch!). Hmm…what the hell? Why did the German shoot the Arab guy again? Later, even Crockett will wonder why the German didn't kill him there.
Back in the Embassy, the encounter with the German Agent causes all the Generals to freak out. Now more than before, they're sure that Churchill is in danger. Crockett overheard the German Agent talk about a plane and a bomb, so they scratch the idea to fly Churchill to Casablanca. Therefore, it's determined that a train is the safest option. All parties agree to keep the travel details secret until the very last moment, to keep the danger low. A "special car" will be attached to the end of the "Casablanca Express", the normal route line across the desert, which will hold Churchill and his guards. The trip will take 20 hours, an awfully long time for something bad to happen.
Hmm…ok, so they heard the German Agent talk about putting a bomb on the plane, right? So why don't they just get a different plane, and make damn sure that no one comes near it? Taking the train is clearly the more dangerous option, so why don't they stick with the plane plan, but just quadruple the security around the airfield? It just seems like a forced rationale for getting Churchill on the train.
Soon afterwards, the Casablanca Express leaves the station, loaded with passengers and intrigue. It's a standard steam locomotive, with a tender and four regular passenger cars, plus Churchill's "special car" on the end. Tubbs and Lorna are aboard, but Crockett is strangely not. Why is Crockett not on the train? Isn't he supposed to be protecting Churchill with Tubbs? And we are never exactly told what Lorna's position here is. She was not privy to any of the staff meetings, nor is she mentioned by any of the Generals, she just seems to tag along because she is Crockett's girlfriend.
I have to talk about Lorna's horrible outfit here, a horizontally-striped jacket over a blue silk skirt, and a goofy hat with a feather stuck in it. I know it's a period 1940s look, but it really makes her look awful. Crockett and Tubbs are dressed in mid 1980s-looking suits and shirts, however.
We see that a squad of ten US Army soldiers is now on the train, guarding Churchill's car. They were given just 30 minutes notice, so I assume that they're soldiers assigned to the US Embassy, right? What other US Army presence would there be here other than that? These men are led by Captain Frazer, played by a terribly low-rent actor who had clearly watched too many war movies as a kid.
"See, Mr. Director, I am so intense!"
A few notes on these US soldiers. They're armed with M-1 Garands and Thompson submachineguns, and they wear the blandest, plainest olive green "uniforms" imaginable, looking straight off the rack at K-Mart. The only insignia is a large American flag on one shoulder, no ranks, no unit badges, no name patches, nothing but the flag.
Back aboard the train, we get to know some of the other passengers. These are all absolute cardboard cut-out characters, painted with as broad a brush as could be found. The actors and actresses are universally bad, perhaps even random strangers plucked off the street and paid to be in the movie. There is an Islamic cleric who prays to Allah, a Catholic priest and two nuns who make cross-signs and finger rosary beads constantly, two screamingly gay RAF officers, a Vichy sympathizer who argues with a loyalist Frenchman over France's capitulation in 1940, a young Western nanny and an ugly young girl, a mysterious Cigarette Smoking Man, two prostitutes who flirt with every man that walks by, and a whole bunch of local Arabs who do little except provide background extras. I will detail some of them as they have bigger roles.
Did you really think an Italian movie wouldn't have nuns in it?
So the train is off now, clinking down the tracks. Meanwhile, Crockett is snooping around at the rail yard, approaching two workmen who are tinkering with a freight car. He asks them about the "special car" and they say that they received the work order to get it cleaned and prepped earlier that morning. This doesn't jive with what Crockett was told, that everything would be a total secret until just an hour or so before the train left the station. Clearly somebody tipped off these workmen many hours beforehand. Crockett leaves for a bit, but then follows one of the workmen as he beelines for the train manager's office.
So, as the workman is jabbering to the manager in Arabic, Crockett enters the room, his pistol drawn. He confronts the manager, telling him that he thinks that they planted a bomb on the train. The manager denies everything, but clearly is very nervous. Connery is really chewing scenery here, trying oh-so hard to be an action hero like his dad, but he just doesn't have the mojo for it. Just as it's starting to get ugly, a man bursts into the room holding a gun! The man shoots the workman (?), and then Crockett shoots him dead! What the hell?
Crockett violates some guy's civil rights.
Later, we see Crockett entering the US Embassy to tell his bosses what he learned. However, the French have ordered him arrested for killing one of their agents (the man in the office). Crockett tells General Williams that Major Valmore told the train manager about Churchill's car earlier in the day, against orders, and he suspects that there is a bomb in the car now. Major Valmore arrives and is furious at Crockett for his actions. Both Crockett and Valmore start tossing insults and accusations. Each claims the other is a German spy, and with no way to prove anything, General Williams orders that both men be kept under guard in the Embassy until they can figure it all out.
Back aboard the train, we see that the German Agent from before is also on the train, disguised as a local. Not too long after the train leaves the station, we see that the German Agent has sneaked onto the roof of a car, taking advantage of a tunnel to mask his movements. Once atop, he walks towards the front of the train. As he walks over the passenger car, Tubbs thinks he hears footsteps above him. Suspicious as he should be, he gets up and heads off to investigate.
So Tubbs goes out between the cars and climbs up on top. Oh man, I just know what's going to happen here. Every movie ever made featuring a train HAS to have a lame-ass fist fight on top of a moving car, right? Right. And here is no exception. Tubbs and the German Agent wrestle around, kicking and punching and generally smacking each other good. We get close-ups of the actors on the roof, though I suspect that the body parts out of frame are held by crewmembers or tethers. There are several nice wide shots, and you can barely tell they are stunt men.
You know, there has seriously got to be a moratorium on fights on train roofs in movies. It's just one of the most clichéd action events in all of cinema, and is rarely done well enough to be exciting and thrilling. Well, I shouldn't say that, I have seen some excellent fights on moving trains before. A few come immediately to mind, SuperCop with Jackie Chan, Breakheart Pass with Charles Bronson, even Spiderman II had a pretty cool train fight. Anyway, I digress.
In the end, Tubbs is bested by the German Agent and ends up crashing through a window into the cabin, landing in the nuns' laps. After quickly tending to Tubbs‘ injuries, Lorna jumps up and runs to see who was on the roof. We're led to believe that she didn't know anything was going on until he came through the window, but earlier Tubbs heard the man's footsteps on the cabin roof, right? So, are you telling me that no one inside heard the three minute fight on the roof, complete with body slams, leaps and kicks?
Out between the cars, Lorna reaches behind her and pulls a pistol out of her waistband. Hmm...I don't think so. She would have to have been sitting on that gun the whole time, digging into her ass. Also notice that the pistol is a German Luger, perhaps the same one the prop master gave the German Agent earlier? Anyway, Lorna peeks up over the car, but can't see anyone. So she runs back to Churchill's car and tells the US Army Captain that someone is on the roof and he might toss a grenade in or something. Hmm...so the US Army dudes didn't have anyone watching the roof of the train? They are all bunched up inside the car, not even anyone on the platform between the cars? Dumbasses!
Meanwhile, the German Agent has reached the engine. There, two engineers are confronted with this pistol-armed man, who demands that they stoke the boiler harder. The fireman bravely takes a swing at the German with his shovel, but misses and is tossed out of the train for his attempt. The driver is wiser and starts shoveling coal as the German takes the wheel. Hmm...apparently no one on the train looked out the window and saw the fireman bouncing along the ground?
We see that the German's plan is to not allow the train to make any of its regular stops. Indeed, we now see the train race through a village station, confused passengers watching helplessly. Out into the open desert the train barrels, making it an easy target for the nefarious plans of the Nazis.
Four American soldiers, including the Captain, now head for the engine, walking along the top of the cars. Not surprisingly, they are spotted by the German Agent, who fires three quick shots from his Luger. One of the bullets kills the poor train engineer, who had lied to him about seeing the Americans coming. Then, lamely, he pulls on the break handle randomly, causing two of the American soldiers to fall off the train as it jerks (!). Watch as the two stuntmen pause a beat before leaping (falling) off the train, now suddenly without their weapons. He then does it again! A third soldier falls, this time between the cars to his ugly bloody death. The Captain also falls, but manages to hang on to the platform.
Inside the passenger cars, the jerky braking is causing people to fall all over each other. One of hookers ends up tangled with one of the gay RAF officers, who has his hands uncomfortably on her breasts. After recovering from his wounds, Tubbs now finally (finally!) decides to get up out of his seat and go try and help out. He goes to Churchill's car where Lorna and the rest of the soldiers are basically just standing around looking pensive. Why doesn't someone try and see what happened to the other four guys? Why are they just standing there? Why doesn't someone radio for help? Why do I hate this movie so much?
Ok, now we get some WWII-vintage stock footage (I just knew we would have some in this bargain-basement movie), this of German parachutists leaping out of a plane (well, I think the footage is of allied troops on D-Day, but I won't quibble). As the German Agent stops the train in the middle of the desert, the paratroopers land all around. I had to make a running tally as the movie went along, but I can say that there are at least 36 paratroopers in all. They are all armed with MP40 submachineguns, they also brought along one, maybe two, crew-served MG42 light machineguns.
The paratrooper uniforms are as plain-jane as those of the American soldiers, just Afrika Korps-tan jumpsuits with helmets and bandoleers. The bandoleers have numerous pouches on them, but none of them are large enough to accommodate a clip for the MP40, so I wonder what‘s in them.
Gotta say that after watching this whole movie, these German paratroopers are the dumbest bunch of soldiers I have ever seen. They are bumbling, stumbling, incompetent men who allow a handful of guys (and gals) to shred them like cheddar cheese over a salad. Basic combat skills are nonexistent, weapon proficiency is alien to them, and they all seem to have the intelligence of drywall paste. Apparently, they were all trained at Crazy Heinrich's School of Paratrooping and Dog Grooming. I've seen tougher and smarter dudes in the halls of Trembling Pines Nursing Home! Krickey, it's like these guys are badly-paid extras or something... If it weren't for the German Agent's leadership, they would be wiped out by a killer bunny rabbit (with sharp pointy teeth...)
Brendan Fraser as a Nazi paratrooper?
A furious gun battle develops as the remaining seven US soldiers of Churchill's guard fight the paratroopers. It‘s a bloody battle, with submachine guns at close range chewing up bodies like nothing else. All seven American soldiers die, including Captain Frazer. In return, the defenders kill nine paratroopers before being overwhelmed.
During the battle, the paratroopers rake the train cars with gunfire, oblivious to the civilians inside, many of whom must have been hit. We see in all five of the Western passengers killed, including the two gay men and one of the nuns. The priest and the ugly little girl are also wounded by fire. The other passenger cars hold local Arabs only, but we never once see any of them, so who knows what happened to them. They also shoot up Churchill's private car, forcing him to the floor as bullets pepper the walls. Pretty dumb move, I say, aren't they trying to capture Churchill alive?
Some of the Western passengers have the balls to join in the fight. The Cigarette-Smoking Man has a pistol, and the two gay RAF officers both have their service revolvers. In a forced bit of poignancy, the two gay men die in a hail of bullets, falling together, their hands intertwined.
The Germans storm the train.
In the end, the superior numbers and firepower of the paratroopers win out and all the American soldiers are killed and the train captured. Lorna is captured along with Churchill, and is kept in the private car under guard. Unbeknownst to them, however, Tubbs is still alive, though wounded, and hiding under the train.
Back at the Embassy, the Generals and Crockett listen to a radio message from the German Agent. He tells them that they have the train and Churchill, and any attempt to rescue him will make them blow up the train. Further, a plane is now on its way from Germany to Algeria to pick up Churchill and take him back to Berlin. Any attempt to interfere with the plane will also result in them blowing up the train.
The Frenchy Major Valmore is exposed as a traitor and led off. He tipped off the Germans and, working with the German Agent, arranged for Churchill to take the train. Now Crockett knows why the Agent didn't kill him--he wanted Crockett to think he was going after the plane, when all along he was planning on the train. Sneaky Kraut.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, the Generals can do little but plan and hope. They order a force of US Marines to take a train from Casablanca up the line and wait a few miles away. Crockett then volunteers to go in alone (of course) and see if he can disable the explosives on the train. Once he does that, he will turn on a radio signal and alert them so they can come running. This is a dangerous job, but Crockett is the best man they have.
Now, they all know that if they assault the train, even with the bombs disabled, there is an even-money chance that Churchill will die. There is much concern of the bad morale effect of Churchill in Berlin being paraded around. Crockett is told in no uncertain terms that if it looks like the Germans are going to get him out of there safely, then he has permission to kill Churchill.
Crockett enlists a local, and on camel-back, he makes his way into the Algerian desert. Not sure how long this takes, but not very long considering he gets there long before the plane from Germany. I suspect he drove or flew close to the where the train was parked, and then took a camel to remain undetected.
Meanwhile, inside the passenger car, we see that the Cigarette Smoking Man is a medic or a doctor of some sort. We see him dig the 9mm slug out of the little girl's shoulder (ouch, didn't really need to see that with a child) with a knife and without anesthesia. He then sews up the wound with silk thread from one of the hooker's stockings. Despite the death and blood around them, the last nun still grimaces in disapproval as the hooker rolls her stocking down in front of them. The priest is still hanging on, despite taking several bursts in the chest (he really should be dead). The Arab cleric holds him and they both pray to their gods, showing us that they now understand each other...
That over, Crockett begins his one-man assault on the train. Working in the dead of night, armed with a crossbow at first, and then with a pilfered MP40 and an MG42 later, he wreaks horrible carnage on the paratroopers. In just a few minutes of combat, Crockett kills an amazing 14 (!!!) paratroopers. In the end, however, he's captured alive by the German Agent.
Before being captured, Crockett managed to reconnect with Tubbs, who is amazingly still alive and now hiding under the train. He also rescues fair Lorna, who was about to be raped by a nasty paratrooper. While Crockett is held under guard (why don't they just shoot him?), Tubbs manages to work his way from car to car, cutting the wires to the bundles of dynamite sticks that are under each.
Meanwhile, Lorna has reentered the passenger car holding all the Westerners. She has a small radio beacon, given to her by Crockett, that she cranks up and turns on. This will send a signal to Allied Command to begin their larger attack.
The paratroopers now start a concerted hunt for the missing Lorna (they still don't know about Tubbs under the train), who they figure must be around somewhere. Hmm...it seems that the Germans have left the passengers alone since the initial raid, just keeping them contained in their cars as prisoners. Several of them are still armed (!) and they prepare to defend themselves.
Several paratroopers burst into the passenger car, looking for her. One of the hookers is shot in the back, going down looking desperately at her friend, and another Westerner is killed trying to help. The Cigarette Smoking Man turns into Rambo here, killing two paratroopers with a combat knife (!).
The Cigarette Smoking Man (not Steve Buscemi).
The Germans give up looking for Lorna, apparently, as they now stop and move on to other things. They don't even check on the missing paratroopers who went into the passenger car, even though they had to have heard the gunfire from within. Seriously stupid guys. But then again, these are the same men who never think to check under the train, where at any given time there are at least two or three people with guns hiding.
Anyway, Lorna's radio signal told the Generals that they could begin the attack. The first thing they do is send up some fighters to bounce the German plane coming to pick up Churchill. They then order the Marines on the other train to start moving forward. Notice the dorky little wooden train models used to mark the locations on the big map, really lame.
Seriously? And why is the middle car red? Wasn't Churchill's car at the end?
The news of the plane makes it back to the German Agent, who is so enraged that he makes to execute Crockett. Before he can do so, however, Tubbs crawls out from under the train, and with a captured MP40, rushes the paratroopers. As well, Lorna and some of the other passengers take the opportunity to start shooting their captured weapons out the train windows, adding to the carnage. Eight more paratroopers go down in the hail of bullets. The Cigarette Smoking Man is hit in the shoulder and is out of action. Tubbs, however, absorbs at least two 7.9mm rounds and goes down, only to rise up again before taking at least two more 7.9mm rounds, then falling again.
Tubbs' death highlights the common movie cliché of disproportionate gunfire injury. Bad guys always die immediately when hit by even one bullet, but good guys, especially main characters, can often take a million hits and still have the strength to fight on and then have a dramatic gasping death monologue. For some great examples of this, see Tony Montana‘s in Scarface or Baromir's epic death scene in The Fellowship of the Ring.
No time for sadness, because the Marines are coming! Tell me again why the Germans didn't mine the tracks on either side of the train? Or send out scouts to watch the surrounding territory, or something? Dumb Germans. For that matter, what sort of exit strategy did they have? Only one plane is coming, and that for Churchill, so how were all these paratroopers supposed to get away? Was this a suicide mission? Were they expected to commandeer local transport and make their way north to the coast?
Now alone in for a moment as the battle moves around the train, Crockett and the German Agent have that man-to-man fight that we all saw coming. There are kicks and punches, flips and tackles, all as Crockett attempts to keep the Agent from reaching the plunger detonator to blow up the train. Much, if not all, of this is done by the actual actors and is predictably slow and paced. The actor playing the Agent is 20 years older than his opponent and some concessions needed to be made for safety. Suddenly, Crockett is shot in the left thigh by a 9mm bullet and goes down. The German Agent smugly walks to the plunger and pushes it down....nothing. Before he died, Tubbs managed to cut all the wires! Yeah for him!
Crockett and the Agent have a stare-down.
Inside the special car, the last two paratroopers still alive make to shoot Churchill, preferring to see him dead than rescued. Just then Lorna bursts in, her MP40 blazing them down.
Lorna then looks out the window to see the German Agent and Crockett still struggling over a gun. A quick burst from Lorna and the Agent grabs the gun and picks Crockett up, using him as a human shield. Crockett is badly wounded and offers little resistance. He drags him to the engine, where he drops him. Seeing an opening then, Lorna opens fire, hitting the Agent in the right arm, causing him to drop his gun.
Now alone in the engine, all his paratroopers dead, the German Agent refuses to give up. Using his one good arm, he takes off the brake and starts shoveling coal in the firebox. The train gets up steam and starts moving. Hmm...so they kept the boilers stoked this entire time? I've watched Thomas the Tank Engine and I know you can't start a steam locomotive up like that in five seconds.
Crockett manages to pull himself up on the train as it rolls away. He works his way between the tender and the first passenger car and attempts to unhook the connection. Ah, we all see what's going to happen here, don't we?
Here come the Marines now, rolling along towards them on their own train. The Marines are all riding on the railings around the tank engine, which has got to be a very hot place to be. There are about 20 Marines, and they have a bazooka mounted on a sandbag emplacement on the locomotive.
Probably not the safest place to ride.
They bazooka the engine, killing the German Agent. The Marines then all jump down and rescue the passengers and Churchill. Everything wraps up nicely here in an ending so irritatingly sappy that I nearly puked. We just had 40 solid minutes of near non-stop machinegunning and knifing and killing and maiming, and now you want us to sit through five minutes of happy gushing and hugging? Ugh. Suffice to say that everything turns out all right. Well, not for the priest. He dies, but the Islamic cleric gives him last rites, so it's ok...
The End, thanks for reading!
Nothing hotter than a chick with a submachinegun...
Bonus! Some handy statistics for you:
3: Number of cigarettes smoked by our cast.
2: Number of girly nipples seen (Lorna's).
15,356,448,127: Number of times that Jason Connery reminds us that thespian skills and acting prowess are NOT hereditary traits.
Written in September 2005 by Nathan Decker and edited by Darci Sharver.
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