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Indie Movie Review – Fortunes Of War

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Just like the public transport system, you can wait ages for a World War Two based action film and then, before you know it, two come along at once. Last month I got to see War Blade which had a small group of soldiers aided by some resistance fighters attacking a Nazi bunker. This month it’s Fortunes Of War which is a World War Two based action film which has a small group of soldiers aided by some resistance fighters hiding up in a farm which turns out to be…well, spoilers!

Fortunes Of War starts off in Normandy 1944. We don’t know whether it is before or after the D-Day invasions but my guess is that it is after as our merry band of heroes start off as a group of, about, ten to fifteen men led by a pompous lieutenant and supported by three resistance fighters. The lieutenant is an prime example of the “lions led by donkeys” mentality. He assumes that the two pips on his shoulders means that he knows better than anyone else. As a result he leads an attack at totally the wrong time which leads to the remaining five men and two resistance fighters being led by a sergeant.

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In The Finest British Tradition

The disastrous assault takes place about ten minutes inland we are left with our core cast. Sergeant Mason (James Oliver Wheatley), Harris (Stanley J Browne), Carter (Asan N’Jie), Norman (Max Gates), Leach (Daniel Thrace), and the resistance fighters Annette (Sophie Craig) and Ines (Meg Forgan). This leads to an unspoken homage to The Magnificent Seven where our gallant band face seemingly endless hoards of German troops, They have places to hide behind and a seeming reluctance from the Nazis to just mortar the farm buildings into oblivion.

Talking of unspoken homages there is a scene reminiscent of Die Hard.  At one point the SS General Horseler (Bob Cryer) is surprised to see a lowly sergeant in command. He asks “Are you in charge?” and gets the reply “Since your lot promoted me!” How much of those were actually intended by writers Ian Thomas and Bill Thomas and how much is down to some sort of pareidolia on my part I can’t tell but what the hell…it’s a bit of fun spotting little nuggets like that when they pop up!

Cobbling Stuff Together And Hoping It Works

There is a dedication part way through the credits which reads “Soldiers of African and Caribbean heritage have been integral to the British Army for more than a hundred years. Often overlooked or distorted, we would like to celebrate their immense value and contribution.” However, I think that this should have been the very first part of the credits. I know that the MCU has meant that people are more likely to sit through the credits “just in case” but a lot of people are still grabbing their coats and heading for the doors by the time that the sound designers and visual effects supervisors get their name checks.

However, misplaced dedication aside, Fortunes Of War was an enjoyable war film. While I said at the start that two war films came along together, what I didn’t realise was that both films came from the same production company; 101 Films International and they were launched together at Marché du Film, Cannes. Personally speaking I found both entertaining and watchable but Fortunes Of War was a much more straightforward war based action adventure. As well as co writing, Bill Thomas does sterling work as director. The action flows nicely from start to finish and is way more believable than War Blade.

Fortunes Of War is released on digital on 19th February 2024.

Movie Grade: A

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