What film have you just watched?


Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan


I have read umpteen comments about the film ranging from "Meh", to "the usual Hollywood war movie", to "very realistic".

I watched it last night so here's my take on it...

Overall, a good attempt to make a film about the battle. Obviously, to include every detail woud be impossible but they got the gist of events pretty much correct. As with most films there are both good and bad points.

Good points...

The period feel was good.

The use of Australian veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq as extras meant that the soldiers in the film actually looked, moved and behaved like soldiers (not the usual bunch of luvvie actors with badly shaped berets). Contact drills looked good and weapon handling was spot on. And berets properly shaped...

...and THAT rifle... ;-)

...and none of the often hysterical shouting and screaming that you get from Hollywood war films...

The portrayal of the supporting artillery (consisting of both New Zealand and and Autralian gunners) was excellent - gave a really good feel of the gun line and procedures, including having to check fire when friendly air support was operating over the battlefield.

Some good performances from the character actors, particularly Luke Bracey as Sgt Bob Buick, but sadly not all of them - yes I'm looking at you Mr Viking Fimmel...

The NVA and VC looked and acted the part - it really gave the impression of numbers about to swamp the Aussie positions.

The SFX, gunfire, noise, artillery fire etc gave a good impression of what it must have looked and sounded like.

The details of the weapons, radios, uniforms and other kit were all spot on as far as I can tell (even down to wearing black boots and not the US style jungle boots), except for the M113 APCs which were a model which did not enter service until 20+ years later.

The lack of ammunition was well brought out.

Bad Points...

The character of Major Harry Smith (Harry the Rat) was poorly thought out and badly scripted and, from what I have read did not match the real man. In the film Maj Smith is shown to be abrasive and bullying (for example, threatening to kill one of soldiers for having had an ND and lying to cover it up) and demanding a posting to Special Forces where his "skills" would be of more use. The reality was that Maj Smith was a professional regular soldier who looked after his men and did his best to inspire company morale through good training and leadership. His radio operator, Pom (Roo) Rencher described him as "A soldier's soldier, whose professionalism rubbed off on the whole company" and a man he would "unquestionably follow anywhere". Another of his men said that "He was a bloke you trusted with your life". Sadly Travis Finmel was not up to the part (and the poor script didn't help) and did not come across in the way that Smith is described by those who served with him. A somewhat wooden performance very reminiscent of Ragnar Lothbrock in "Vikings". He's a bit of a one trick pony IMHO...

The Artillery FO - another bodge job. The FO Captain Stanley is shown in the film as uncertain and a bit browbeaten by Smith. This was not the case - Stanley was an experienced and very competent gunner officer who also understood how infantry operated and he worked closely with Smith to provide D Company with the support they needed.

A young Platoon commander, Lt Gordon Sharp, was shown as a bit of a cowboy, wearing sunglasses in the field and apparently not knowing his job. In actual fact although he had only been with the company for a few months, he learned quickly and during the battle he was on the ball, sending contact reports and sitreps to Coy HQ, manoevering his sections and constantly moving around his platoon to keep control up until the point where he was killed.

There were also a few arguments amongst the senior officers which jarred with the historical accounts.

In the film the rain has stopped and the M113 APCs of the reinforcements arrived in daylight and clear weather after meeting only light resistance. On the day the APCs, from 1st APC Sqn plus some infantry from A Coy 6RAR, had to fight their way through to the trapped Aussies through heavy rain and a fresh VC battalion, and making a river crossing en route, before arriving at the trapped Aussie position at about 19.00 hours as darkness was falling. The NVA and VC out up a stiff fight but soon broke contact to make use of the darkness to withdraw.

So, overall a pretty good movie if you can overlook the bad points. It certainly has a feel for the real thing and the battle scenes were generally very well done. The only thing which really let it down IMO was the poor characterisation, in particular Maj Smith.

One to watch if you are interested in the Vietnam war, if only to wonder how 108 Australians managed to defeat an enemy who outnumbered them by such a huge margin...

9 Walzing Matildas out of 10

This is how to review a movie. Cheers
When I lived at Brisbane, my next door neighbour was a Vietnam Veteran and a biker. He served if I remember 1RAR, as a Regular did six years if I remember.
Past away now poor bugger.
1 Royal Anglian Regiment?
Thanks for that, I was thinking about watching that but will give it a miss now.
Obviously entirely my own opinion. Others will have a different view. What could have been a thoughtful, intelligent portrayal of a significant naval battle was just rammed full of Hollywood clichès and over the top, excessive special effects.
Anyway, its put me in the mood and I'm going to start watching Pacific from episode 1 tonight.


Book Reviewer
Jolt. Kate Beckinsale looks hot and kicks the living shit out of bad people, all whilst not being a vampire this time.
Saw that the other day, not ever going to be an Oscar winner, but a pretty reasonable story line.


I’ve finished watching the ‘Perfect spy’ box set.l
That was the second of the ARRSE spy film recommendations.

I found it interesting, well written and well acted.


Tonight I watched the 1963 film ‘The terror’.

This film stars Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson.

The title of the film reminded me of the way the title of the film ‘The Earth dies screaming’ related to that film. Just like the Earth didnt die, and there wasn’t really any screaming in ‘The Earth dies screaming’, there was no terror in ‘The terror’

Nicholson‘s acting was very poor in The terror, and wasn’t even as good as his acting in the original Little shop of horrors. Overall the acting in this film was closer to the level of ‘The wild women of Wonga’ than the acting in The shining or One flew over the cuckoos nest.

For me, I couldn’t wait for the film to finish, and think it would have been better tilted as The insomnia cure. :)
Obviously entirely my own opinion. Others will have a different view. What could have been a thoughtful, intelligent portrayal of a significant naval battle was just rammed full of Hollywood clichès and over the top, excessive special effects.
Anyway, its put me in the mood and I'm going to start watching Pacific from episode 1 tonight.
Horrible CGI of the Pearl Harbor attack and ham handed overacting. Shown on a Large screen the flying sequences of the SBD's diving would be thrilling. Frankly it makes the Charlton Heston version from the 70's look better


Book Reviewer
Just did a little digging, the Subaru Impreza police car in the final scene has also been in 2 other films and the TV program Primeval.

Gout Man

Book Reviewer


Midway - the latest Hollywood version. A load of utter gung ho pump. I thought Hollywood had moved on a bit from its patronsing, stereotypical character portrayal. Despite a lot of the film focus being on the head shed of the time, I found it quite difficult to follow the sequence of events before and during the battle. The special effects had me thinking I was watching a cartoon most of the time.
An opportunity for something credible missed.
It's right up there with the last Pearl Harbour film.
1 burning radial engine out of 5.

Agreed on all fronts. Couldn't believe that the script editors doing read throughs were so shite as to pull out every tedious cliche going back through 60 years of awful Hollywood war films & plough every one of em into what could have been an actual accurate portrayal of the pivotal battle of the Pacific campaign.
I'd rate it almost as bad as that Nolan dirge, Dunkirk.