Friday, March 5, 2010

Southern Comfort

In keeping with the military theme from my last post, I feel the moral obligation to share a film with you called Southern Comfort. Directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors), Comfort follows a Louisiana National Guard squad at odds with a group of territorial Cajuns. Set deep in rural swamplands, the soliders call on all of their military experience in an attempt to get home safely. But with the homefield advantage going to the French-speaking poachers, the group finds themselves underprepared. And now with the roughest gang of Cajuns on their tail, the band of good guys have to, in a sense, bop their way home.

Walter Hill knows how to direct a group. His other ensemble cast films, The Warriors and The Long Riders, each use their opening act carefully--familiarizing the audience with a large number of characters in a short amount of time. Connections are built quickly; they have to be because in each case, not everyone makes it back alive. In fact, not everyone makes it past the first acts. Comfort's characters are immeditely distinguishable. You've got the Leader, the Back Up Leader, the Guy Who Wants to Be Leader But Shouldn't, The Guy Who Doesn't Want to Be Leader But Should Be. Comic relief, badasses, good ol' boys. They're all here. And they all piece together well.

The action is good. The suspense is better. The Cajuns have booby-trapped the wetlands with bear traps and assorted other inhumane devices. The troops have guns but are low on bullets. And to top it all off, there's a power struggle within the ranks that pretty much guarantees a knife fight. Hill loves him some slow-motion accents but doesn't overdo it. There were numerous times where I audibly yelled (even though I was watching by myself) in genuine shock/excitement. Southern Comfort is cool. You're gonna like this one. And if you don't like it, skip Deliverance.

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