Buffalo Soldiers Reviews
Trite, you say? You betcha! I'm also way too over the top and ignore any semblance of realism. I guess I just need attention. Goddamn... I'm barely watchable.
The acting performances are solid all around. Joaquin Phoenix, who was fresh off of an Oscar nomination (his first of two to date) for his villainous role in Gladiator back when this film was originally due for release, isn't quite the standout here that he was in the 2000 Best Picture winner (or more recently in Walk The Line for which he earned the second nomination), but he's still good enough to sell us on Ray Elwood, the somewhat duplicitous but still likable protagonist in this film. His running voice-over commentary, in particular, is laced with just the right amount of scathing commentary and self-deprecation. The more interesting performances belong to Ed Harris (who plays against type as a rather spineless commanding officer) and Scott Glenn (who plays to type as the hard-nosed new commander who comes in to clean things up around the base). Glenn, in particular, is almost frightening with the kind of intensity he radiates as Sergeant Lee. If you wanna cross this guy, you'd better do it right! On the other hand, Harris is far more laid back that were used to seeing from him but he manages to pull of his part as the milquetoast Colonel Berman quite well, which is a testament to his range as an actor. Solid support is provided by Elizabeth Govern as Berman's adulterous wife, the underrated Anna Paquin, who plays Elwood's love interest and Sergeant Lee's daughter, Gabriel Mann who plays Elwood's roommate, and finally Leon and Michael Pena, who play Elwood's partners in crime.
The film's taut pacing is also worth mentioning; at just over an hour and a half, Buffalo Soldiers doesn't come close to wearing out its welcome and it manages to sustain it's momentum for nearly all of the running time. This is not a perfect movie by any means (in particular, the movie does fall prey to some rather unfortunate and easy-to predict "twists" near the end) but overall, it's an above-average comedy-thriller that has the capacity to entertain anyone who's willing to take a chance. It definitely deserves far more attention than it has gotten over the years.