Saints And Soldiers: The Void


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Saints And Soldiers: The Void
"There's nothing badly wrong with it but there's not much standing in its favour, either."

Despite the myths, wars never end neatly. With the best will in the world, it can be difficult to reach isolated pockets of fighters in remote places, and some units will simply never give up on what they were fighting for. In May 1945 a US tank crew encounters a group of Nazis hidden in the Harz mountains in northern Germany, waiting to ambush a supply route. With no help but for that of a lost English officer who stumbles into their path, they must decide how to handle the situation- whether to flee, knowing that no-one else need know and the war will soon be over, or to try and take out the enemy and thereby protect those who will be driving that way later.

This may sound like a strong premise, but there have been so many World War Two films at this point that in order to make an impression they really need more than that. With a weak script and only one main actor worth speaking of (K. Danor Gerald, whose character is also the only one with a developed backstory), Saints And Soldiers: The Void wholly fails to distinguish itself. There's nothing badly wrong with it but there's not much standing in its favour, either.

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Like many low budget films about the period, this one lets itself down by getting many small but important details wrong. Some of this is simply cinematic code - shells causing petrol explosions, for instance - but other things, like soldiers casually waving shiny objects around in front of windows when they're trying to hide, require more rigorous suspension of disbelief. There's also a tendency to chicken out too soon whenever a scene threatens to become suspenseful, whether it's Russian roulette or searching a stranger on the road. Although the film picks up pace in the last third, by then it's really too late to persuade viewers to invest in the situation.

There are a few nice touches. The English officer's shock when Danor's character explains US institutional racism is not only a sweet nod to the supposed British sense of fair play but places US history in an international context it rarely has to contend with. The provision of rations to a German family touches on the rarely seen business of humanitarian effort and the process of recovery at the end of the conflict. The breakdown of order on the losing side also makes some impact, with Cardiff Gerhardt's brief appearance helping to breathe emotional life into the story. The main characters are two dimensional, however, making it hard to care what happens to them, and the action is too piecemeal and uneven to grip in its own right. There are absolutely no surprises in the plot. Void is pretty much the word for it.

Reviewed on: 03 Oct 2014
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In the dying days of World War Two, a small group of Allied soldiers try to flush out die hard Nazis hiding in the hills.

Director: Ryan Little

Writer: Ryan Little

Starring: K Danor Gerald, Brenden Whitney, Matthew Meese, Bart Johnson, Adam Gregory, Timothy S Shoemaker, Michael Todd Behrens, Christoph Malzl

Year: 2014

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted


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