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"Men Against Fire" boasts high production value and a disquieting conclusion, but this Black Mirror installment suffers from a blunt central theme that many viewers may find too on the nose to sustain an episode.
Men Against Fire is one of the better episodes of the series, I think, because it actually featured a sharp twist with a message, and one that wasn't as obvious as the show's usual sermons (technology: bad, mob mentality: bad, brain implants: v. v. bad).
The message of Men Against Fire is one of compassion... it's a message that's more important now than ever. Brooker may bludgeon us over the head with it, but maybe our heads were in need of some bludgeoning.
This episode delves deep into the dangers of conformity and indoctrination -- demonizing The Other in a way that has obvious parallels to the Nazis and the Jews, but can more broadly apply to any group your side dislikes.
Once you recognize the direction it's headed in, however, the impact of the story might make you want to discard the news forever, because you've realized once again you're not just watching a show. You're already living it.
Men Against Fire is a meandering bore, not even able to proffer the visual flare making even the most mediocre Black Mirror episode an aesthetic accomplishment.
"Men Against Fire" is easier to appreciate than it is to actually like, mainly because it has so much on its mind and wants to tackle subjects that need to be tackled.
It's so strongly hedged in heavy-handed messaging and, frankly, hammy acting that anything worthwhile gets lost in some awfully melodramatic clutter.
The relevant episode takes on modern warfare, with a Black Mirror-like test of morality, but the ending still leaves much to be desired.
"Men Against Fire" Is the best episode in Black Mirror's third season.
It's an intriguing premise undermined by somewhat sloppy execution.