MURDER COMPANY Deals out a half DIRTY DOZEN

Hitting theaters and VOD July 5th just in time for independence day is Murder Company, a man on a mission flick that understood the assignment. “Based on actual events”, the film has a group of stray soldiers who after being deployed to Europe are separated from their various units and united under General Haskel (Kelsey Grammer) for a new mission. The film definitely shares a lot of DNA with Robert Aldrich’s combat classic The Dirty Dozen, but has our troops not facing the death penalty as motivation for their mission, which gives them some leverage in their moral lament about what they are tasked to do. 

Taking place at the tail end of World War 2 the five soldiers are charged first with rescuing a member of the French Resistance, who will then guide them to a secluded mansion where they are to kill a high ranking SS officer in charge of transportation. There’s also a bit in there about a bridge that Kelsey Grammer’s platoon is trying to hold down and how this mission would impact that. But the weight of the narrative is on the soldiers’ backs who are having some rather intense discussions of the morality of their mission, since they are being used as assassins rather than soldiers. 

[L-R] James Wiles as “Verrill” and Kelsey Grammer as “Haskel” in the war/action film, MURDER COMPANY, a Maverick Film & Complex Corp release. Photo courtesy of Maverick Film & Complex Corp.

While the story is fine for a man on a mission flick, what makes this title worth the watch like most of these films is the cast. The solid and diverse cast makes the group feel organic, while also allowing each man to dig into the differences and motivations, from each of their POVs. Standouts for me were Jilon VanOver as Stubbs, the Bill Paxton-esque comic relief and Joe Anderson who feels like a young Charlie Hunnam here as their reluctant leader Smith. Honorable mention goes to Gilles Marini, the French Resistance fighter, who of course is affectionately nicknamed “Frenchie”. His motivation is purely personal, and that helps to give the mission some real weight for one of our soldiers. 

Essentially the breadth of the narrative is this mission thread, and every now and again we check in with Kelsey Grammer, who feels actually vested in this film unlike some bigger names on smaller budget films. While this film’s performances were definitely engaging and kept me vested, once in a while the less convincing CGI and some of the bigger battles betrayed that trust. Luckily those battles felt like they were placed in such a way, that the performances earned the viewer back in after the fact. That being said, like a Dirty Dozen or even a Saving Private Ryan it’s the troops that we’re there for, and this film definitely sold me on that angle.

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