Starring Mel Gibbous in an American Revolution setting. I happen to be reading a bio of George Washington by James Flexner, so when I saw this nugget on Netflix, it seemed to fulfill a chord.
Mel, the guy who gets the close ups, plays a widower with a brood of shiny kids, including Heath Ledger as the eldest. While revolution foments around him Mel wants no part. He suffers guilty for actions taken during the French and Indian War. Heath wants to his part and joins the militia, or maybe the Continental Army.
I won’t pretend that I paid close attention. There is a skirmish on Mel’s property and tho his family cares for wounded British soldiers, there are American soldiers there, including Heath.
The British officer takes Heath away. I don’t know who the actor is but I am pretty sure he is a product of dna hijinks. I mean the gimlet eyes and general bearing of evil incarnate, Hollywood needs a steady supply in any number of movies. Shuffle a few chromosomes to ensure a futurity of cinematic villains.
One of Mel’s younger sons attempts to prevent Heath’s removal and is shot. The odious officer orders the house burnt. Just maybe Mel will want revenge.
The children are sent to live with Mel’s sister-in-law and Mel somehow prevents Heath from being hanged, or hung. I honestly can’t remember how this occurred, some low level buckling of swash, but it got done. Now Mel’s angry.
Mel commits to the cause. The cause is revenge, by the way. So let’s see, glinting-eyed psychopath goes after families of insurgents. They track down Mel’s sister-in-law, caring for his brood. We have already seen Mel in bed with her, and the children, but he is staring at her and she at him. Molto creepy. Let the substitution begin!
The Brits arrive at night but a boy stood watch and warned everyone. Sister-in-law guides the children to the cellar while the guard boy hides beneath a table. I believe it is Mr Evil himself who enters the room. He even hears the click when the boy draws the hammer of his musket, but Mr Evil doesn’t open the door, the DOOR, behind which is the trap door to the cellar. Crisis averted. The family trod off to a safe place: a community of happy, free, black people. Well that’s nice. The two thirds citizen men and zero thirds citizen women. I didn’t mench that the SIL’s home was burned down. That will probably call for revenge.
There’s been action and sad face from Mel and his gang of desperados. One militia man kills himself after discovering his wife and child dead in reprisal. That may have been after Mel visited Cornwallis to bargain for the lives of 18 captured militia. He gives the esteemed British lord a spyglass to see in the distance 18 captured redcoats. Cornwallis affirms the trade, only later to discover that it was just uniforms tied to the stakes not soldiers.
The psychotic British officer visits a village where lives Heath’s newly-minted wife and others. He gathers them in the church then fires the it. That would be considered an atrocity, worthy of revenge.
On discovering this, Heath races off ahead of dad and the militia. He even finds, somehow, the very miscreant. A skirmish in which twice the number of redshirts as was in either party succumbs to righteous or evil endeavor. The reverend gets plugged just as Heath is about to get shot. That bad officer is loading his pistol but the reverend has just enough righteous pizzazz to toss his musket into Heath’s hands, and Heath plugs the heinous officer. Rather than check on the reverend, or do anything quickly, Heath stands over the fallen officer, readying to apply a coup de grace with his knife. Surprise! The officer isn’t dead enough, and stabs Heath to almost dramatic death with a sword. The officer ambles away, shaking off the musket ball in the torso. Mel arrives and swears a bit of vengeance. At the same time, he is not sure he wishes to carry on with this shit, tho his militia and nascent country need him.
Now Cornwallis is cornered. Mel offers the strategy of placing the militia in the front line, to soon scramble back drawing the Brits into contest with the Continental Army. And blah blah blah, Mel has to pick up a flag to inspire the payoff. The ever so tiresome final battle between these arch rivals. Mel looks sliced and diced but whoa, surprise, the bad guy dies. Freedom and stuff.
Mel’s performance struck me as overly thought. Evident moving of the gears. The tediousness of revenge here makes me think on this country and its current trials. The righteous anger bubbling so obviously here and there swollen by revenge’s call. Simplistically it is why is something something and I am not? My inalienable right to be free of face mask, my birthright as asshole, my god-given directive to be free of clear topic sentences. Mel can go on to drunken anti-Semitic rants because that’s what’s called birthright. Shitty movie if you kinda look at it. Last scene shows the cozy family together except two sons dead and the dead mother replaced.