The Guns of Navarone Reviews
The mission to destroy the title guns is as epic as they come, and Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, and David Niven deliver stellar performances.
Then again, why is The Guns of Navarone so entertaining and invigorating that men from ages 5 to 95 want turn out and kick some ass after watching it? Well, it's probably because it falls into the camp of flicks like The Dirty
Dozen and Kelly's Heroes (if not quite as funny) as a movie about
Guys-on-a-Mission. In this case the mission is simple: get behind enemy
lines on the little island of Navarone, where damn giant guns (or rather cannons) are being used on allied warships and other targets, and destroy them to Hades. Of course, as one might expect, this is practically (if not just) a suicide mission, but the men- Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, David Nicen- all take up the cause to go and do it, along with their own few men who can just kill on a whim... that is, if they need to, such as with a knife or bare-hands.
It could be called an anti-war film perhaps, but it's ultimately an action/adventure movie, and so in its own dimension, it does... make this look exciting and dangerous but the kind us in the audience who may have not gone to war can still get behind. It's realistic fantasy, if that makes sense, and while it's more for the guys I'm sure some women won't mind taking in the main stars (I mean, Anthony Quinn, come on). For all of the intense scenes, such as the cliff climbing during the storm or, of course, the tense climax, it takes a little while for the plot to really get going. It's this exposition one has to kind of just sit up and do the best to pay attention to, knowing full well the plot will take its inevitable twists and turns and we'll be informed on what's going on again anyway (sometimes by an actual maritime clock).
Once it does, it keeps going as a relentless mission-flick, and there are two genuinely great scenes (maybe two of the best scenes in any war movie): one is when Anthony Quinn, in a line-up with his fellow British and Greek soldiers standing in front of irate Nazis, tries to get out of the lineup by saying he's just a "poor fisherman". A trick, of course, though what's great about the scene (aside from Quinn's performance) is how you're not sure if he'll be taken outside for something and then find a way back in to save the others, or if (as what happens) they all fight back by his own distraction. The other scene is deeper, and perhaps the best "serious" scene in the film, when the group realizes just before they're about to blow up the guns that they have a traitor in their midst. It's impossible to give anything away, except to say that it has a quintessential use of a silencer in a movie.