Where Eagles Dare Reviews
A classic thriller that is timeless and will forever be one of the best action films ever to be directed.
A must watch!
I've grown into this one. I must admit that at first I didn't care about it too much, but suddenly I realized it's one of the best. Along with Great Escape, Guns Of Navarone, Great Escape etc.
Eagles is somewhat the opposite of Paths of Glory or Full Metal Jacket for example. Here war is no hell, but a huge adventure. The leading carracters (Burton & Eastwood) manage to invade a nazi military base, fool everybody and pile up hundreds of germans, before they flee into freedom. On paper, it's all nearly ridiculous.
But the wonders that modern cinema can do.. First of all, the plot is twisted as hell. I had to watch the "war room scene" at least three times before I got who double crossed who, and who they KLEIM TÜ BE! Although it's almost comedical how Burton & Eastwood survive from anything, there's still this sort of seriousness and excitement present the whole time. The duo kicks so much ass and are so goddamn brutal in everything they do, you just can't help but sit, watch and salute.
2h38min and there's no dull moment. Action is constant, excitement is constant, the carracters are brilliant ..yeah. How should I say this: If Clint Eastwood is left as a sidekick in an action movie, then how goddamn manly has the leading dude be? Well, here comes Richard Burton - In one of the greatest performances of his career for sure. He's a human dynamo, making brilliant, cool blooded decisions after another, slaying nazies like there's no tomorrow, and finally exposing the greatest traitor of them all.
Where Eagles Dare - A mankind's moment where war entertainment reached it's peak.
This Alistair MacLean based barnstormer also boats a top notch cable-car scrap, the most incomprehensible "explanation" sequence in any war movie, and a brilliantly bad ginger Gestapo boo boy.
With all my jokes about dated dramatics of the '60s, this film has quite a bit of edge to it, yet not exactly to its narrative itself, which follows formula and, along the way, makes matters worse by hitting conventional, almost trite dialogue, if not characterization that is lacking is to begin with. This drama really is about the mission, so it wastes so little time in firing right in that, beyond the mission, immediate development is hardly touched upon in a script that goes on to have hold the audacity to say very little about the well-portrayed and somewhat memorable, but formulaically and thinly drawn characters, and take its time to say so little. Running over two-and-a-half hours in length, this film is simply too blasted long to place only so much attention to exposition and material, near-monotonously meandering along filler, if not some ultimately inconsequential plot layers so recurrently that momentum which should be consistently slick ends up rarely picking up to really, really entertain. Needless to say, it doesn't help that Brian G. Hutton's directorial storytelling hits its share of slow spells, with quiet, or at least thoroughly atmospheric spots that rarely retard momentum so greatly that dullness sets in, while engagement value is lost for an extended period of time, but still has a tendency to bland things up with its questionable thoughtfulness over thin material found both in Alistair MacLean's script and in concept. Once again, this drama is really about the mission, not the thematic and dramatic weight or scope of war, simply high-caliber military men who, for the sake of national security during wartime, take on a task that is rich in visceral tension, but even conceptually lacking in dramatic tension, no matter how much ambition is placed in the relatively minimalist story concept's interpretation. This ambition, of course, begets inspiration that goes quite a ways in driving this film as entertaining and reasonably compelling, perhaps to where the final product could have rewarded, despite its natural shortcomings, were it not for the consequential shortcomings, which render the final product formulaic, thinly drawn, draggy and all around underwhelming. Of course, the final product just barely falls short of what it could have been, delivering more than adequately of respectable strengths, even in production value.
Peter Mullins' art direction is pretty solid, doing close to nothing unique with its restoration of more remote regions occupied by the Nazis during WWII, but still doing enough to distinguish the time in an almost attractive manner, at least beyond a lovely, snowy backdrop that colors up visuals almost as much as smashing action, limited though it may be in quantity. As far as quality is concerned, the action stands out, with tense tighter sequences and grand, technically impressive pieces of broader scale that mark highlights in establishing a sense of consequence to a story whose consequentiality is more limited in concept than it probably should be as a war thriller. With that said, there is still some juice to salvage in the basic idea behind this film, which is genuinely intriguing in its tense study on military spies taking on a mission of great consequence, despite only fair cinematic consequence, often genuinely flavored up by highlights in Alistair MacLean's conventional, undercooked and overdrawn script which include some snappy dialogue and even plenty of surprisingly audacious set pieces that aren't afraid to reinforce what edge there is. There's plenty of bite to this film on paper, and when it comes to execution by director Brian G. Hutton, although many a hiccup is hit, thoughtfulness that thrives on quiet intensity, if not the tonal quality of Ron Goodwin's solid, if conventional score, upon finding material to draw upon, engages pretty commendably, particularly when tensions really arrive, handled with a kick was almost uncommon for films of the time. Its violence edgy and its atmosphere subtle, the intensity of this drama is typically pretty raw, highlighting an entertainment value which rarely abates to the point of losing you, and ultimately carries enough color to engage through and through. What endears about as much as anything is, of course, a cast full of charismas, most all of whom all but pale in comparison to the charisma of the subdued Richard Burton and the gritty Clint Eastwood, who also share a certain chemistry that makes the central leads particularly memorable, in spite of thin characterization. Yes, for every strength there is a shortcomings, thus, the final product falls short, but only of rewarding, to which it comes close enough to entertain and compel serviceably with a respectable, if limited array of strengths.
Bottom line, hardly anything new is done here, and only so much of anything at all is said about the characters, despite an excessive structure whose slow spells are made all the more bland by cold spells in direction and natural shortcomings to the story concept, which are ultimately to difficult to ignore for the sake of reward value, enough glimpses of which are seen through solid immersion value and action, decent and often edgy writing and direction, and plenty of charismatic performances - particularly those by Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood - to make Brian G. Hutton's "Where Eagles Dare" a somewhat inconsequential, but ultimately perfectly decent and often tense military thriller.
2.75/5 - Decent