The Odd Angry Shot Reviews
I see why people would have criticized the casting of Graham Kennedy, but I would not think it was because he was older and fatter, but because he was such a gag-man: his lines often sound rehearsed, like in a comedy show, and he sounds bizarrely unnatural in the midst of the rest of the cast, that is generally good.
As for the low budget: I don't agree with the fact that the reason why we do not see the explosion leading to Rogers (Bryan Brown) having his legs cut off is lack of funds. It actually makes perfect sense in the narrative. The first casualty is Scott, whom we see attentive to his mail, then to the meeting, doing everyting right in the patrol until he is shot. Lots observation in preparation for his disappearance from the group. In the case of Rogers, we first see the men leaving the shooting range joking, and the last line of this scene is Rodgers saying, laughingly, 'who said crime doesn't pay?'. A few seconds later, we discover him lying wounded: he is paying for crimes he didn't do. No need for a lenghty scene like that announcing Scott's death, because the viewer already understands that episodes like these have become the men's daily bread.
Finally, I don't agree that the last scene is peaceful: Bill is clearly disillusioned, doesn't want to talk, can't talk at all, is not happy to be there as he would not be happy if still in Viet Nam. He is broken and Harry's attempts to cheer him up don't convince him.
It's a movie made with intelligence and sensitivity: we see in Jeffrey's camera the love for the actors, and for mankind. Never has Brown looked so likeable in a movie, nor Kennedy so vulnerable. John Hargreaves is crazy in an ebulliant and delightful way. The fight scene between the Americans and the Australians is sheer pleasure.
What's probably the greatest virtue of this film is that it portrays the sheer BOREDOM of war. That most of the time you're on stag, doing recce patrols, conducting raids etc where nothing happens. It also gives a good idea of what the Anzac SAS actually did in Vietnam, long range recce patrols, ambushes, raids, killing and capturing small groups of Vietcong guerrillas and recovering some of the huge amounts of documents the enemy produced and the intelligence corps delighted in. When we actually see combat it's not the elaborate set pieces we're used to but short, random and arbitrary as the title suggests
Some have criticised the casting of Harry, saying he's too old and fat for the role. Nonsense, I've met real SAS guys just like him, not everyone in the special forces resembles Arnold Scharzeneger/James Bond. I really take to the character, a veteran of Borneo and possibly Malaya and Korea, taking care of the new guys but telling them how it is and pulling no punches. The scene where he stands up to the pompous office-bound Sgt Major (utterly UNTHINKABLE to challenge his authority in real life!)is a classic. Interestingly the officers are portrayed in a wholly positive light which is a rarity in Vietnam films
As has been stated elsewhere this actually gives an unrealistic idea of SAS casualties, in reality they only lost 6 men and killed over 400 enemy in Vietnam. Possibly the author wanted to show the wider experience of Anzac forces in the conflict
The lack of budget also shows a little, we see the aftermath of a raid on a village where the team kill a Vietcong guerrilla and capture 2 more but we don't see the raid itself. We see Bryan Brown's character crippled by a booby-trap but don't see the explosion. The 'big battalions' of the Royal Australian Regiment are referred to but never seen.
I really love the ending, Harry and Bill return to civilisation and have a beer in their favourite bar. The barman asks if they're just back from Vietnam and Harry lies and tells him no, not to be nasty, he just doesn't want to talk about it. They sit and enjoy their beer, looking out on the world, the Sydney skyline, grateful for what they have and quietly mourning those they've left behind. For those of us who have seen both the darkest and best of human nature in the most extreme of circumstances haven't we all felt like that at times?