This low-budget take on the D-Day landings is hampered by stock characterisations and religious didacticism.
Saints and Soldiers 2: Airborne Creed is a World War Two drama set around a paratrooper assault, Operation Dragoon, which was a major constituent of the D-Day landings in 1944. The film is a prequel to director Ryan Little’s first Saints and Soldiers film, which was based on the Second World War Malmedy massacre during the Battle of the Bulge.
Little's earlier effort was impressive, not least because as an independent, first-time director he managed to produce a passable period war film on a budget less than $1 million. Admittedly, his inexperience and budget constraints were up there on the screen.
This prequel is a far more impressive effort, which at times comes across as a Polish of Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers, though fails to be particularly moving. The believable chemistry between the three main characters almost helps us forget they are totally stereotypical grunts-at-war.
Rossi, played by Corbin Allred, is the tough inner city kid who skipped school but earns respect as a skilled soldier and boxer. Despite a hard exterior he is troubled by the violence he sees, which we are regularly reminded of through repeated flashbacks.
Curtis (Jasen Wade) is the archetypal 'All-American boy' distracted by longings for his sweetheart back home, which again we are regularly reminded of through flashbacks. As the oldest member of the trio, Jones (David Nibley) acts as a moral compass and father figure, similar to that of Tom Hanks' Captain Miller.
Jones' devout religion fuels a raging internal debate over the rights and wrongs of fighting the war, and yes, we are regularly reminded of this through flashbacks. A committed Mormon, director Little makes no secret of the religious themes explicit in the film. Airborne Creed explores the duality of man, and also questions the moral and religious justification for WWII, a 'righteous' war that the film wholeheartedly supports.
Little evidently aspires to be as profound and poetic as films like Malick's The Thin Red Line but through his chronic over-use of flashback, accompanied by the obligatory dramatic choral music and moody close-up slo-mo, mean the film's deeper messages are delivered in a ham-fisted and often laughable manner.
The poster looks just like Band of Brothers
Even heavier on irrelevant flashbacks than Lost
Maybe all those flashbacks weren't so painful...