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Men of Honor

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Men of Honor

Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Robert De Niro
Director: George Tillman
Rated: R
RunTime: 128 Minutes
Release Date: November 2000
Genre: Drama

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1.  Susan Granger review follows movie reviewmovie review
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4.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

Based on a true story, this is an old-fashioned, inspirational military drama - which works for it and against it. Cuba Gooding Jr. effectively plays Carl Brashear, who became the Navy's first African-American master diver, while Robert De Niro, as Billy Sunday, is the manic redneck instructor who torments and humiliates him before becoming his mentor. "Why do you want this so badly?" he's asked. "Because they said I couldn't have it" is Brashear's meaningful reply. Hal Holbrook adds to the rampant racism as the terrorizing commander of the Naval Diving School. Powers Boothe is the first officer to acknowledge Brashear's deep determination to succeed, and David Keith is the sympathetic officer who's there when a freak, shipboard accident cripples Brashear, causing the eventual amputation of his leg. Executive produced by Bill Cosby, written by Scott Marshall Smith and directed by George Tillman Jr. ("Soul Food"), the film obviously fictionalizes rather than depicts the various biographical incidents that transformed Brashear's early life as a Kentucky sharecropper's son ("Don't end up like me," his father warns.) and his military career which began in the '60s with mess duty. Gooding's and De Niro's wives are predictably played by Aunjanue Ellis and Charlize Theron, respectively, while Michael Rapaport, Joshua Leonard and Holt McCallany portray other trainees. Credit cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond for capturing the danger and undersea isolation of the divers and the taut tension of the diving program's final exam. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Men of Honor" is a well-intentioned, if melodramatic 5, slipping into sloppy sentiment a bit too often as it extols Brashear's courage and indomitable spirit. The R-rating comes from salty language and racist comments.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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