The Veteran (2006/Anchor
B- Sound: B- Extras: C- Film: C
Furie's The Veteran
is a respectable straight-to-DVD movie that was headed for the
"pleasant surprise" category before self-destructing with a
terrible, out-of-the-blue ending.
once a Hollywood director who made a mixed bag of major films from
the 1960s through the 1980s. But for the last 15 years or so, he's
retreated back to his native Canada where he's continued to work steadily on
mostly Canadian-financed direct-to-DVD B movies.
Furie's three decades as a Hollywood journeyman, two of his
most underrated efforts were set during the Vietnam War. First
came The Boys in Company C
(1978), one of the earliest films about Vietnam that was quickly
forgotten amongst the bigger, more-publicized Vietnam dramas of the late
'70s (The Deer Hunter,
Coming Home and Apocalypse Now). Then came
Furie's Purple Hearts
(1984), a love story set against the backdrop of the war that didn't get
the distribution it deserved.
returns to the subject of Vietnam on a smaller scale with The Veteran. In Furie's
latest, Bobby Hosea stars as Ray Watson, an African-American Vietnam vet turned
preacher and politician who is forced to return to Vietnam for the first time
in 30 years when he receives an anonymous letter that could jeopardize his
ambitious political future.
present day 'Nam he's held hostage by a former member of his squad named
Doc (Michael Ironside), who holds him at gunpoint in a hotel room, forcing
him to reminisce about their combat experiences. Turns out
Ironside's character never left Vietnam, deciding to remain in the county
after spending several years as a prisoner of war. He has
obvious psychological scars.
the street, listening to their every word on a surveillance mission is Ally
Sheedy, who supposedly works for the U.S. government trying to track down MIA's
and Doc recall old incidents and Army buddies, the film flashes back
to Vietnam during the height of the war and introduces us to young versions of
Ray and Doc and other members of their unit like an officer (Casper
Van Dien) in charge of writing letters home to the families of the
dead and a gutsy Catholic priest (Martin Kove).
flashbacks to wartime and the scenes of the tense present-day reunion
between Ray and Doc hold our interest, but Sheedy's subplot keeps
interrupting like it belongs in a totally different movie. The script
only justifies her presence at the very end with a cheap plot twist that exists
merely to surprise viewers, and doesn't seem authentic to anything that
has come before it. The ending left me feeling cheated, happening so
abruptly that it suggests the production money was running out so somebody
said, "Let's hurry up and end this thing."
shame because The Veteran
offers good performances by Hosea and especially the under-used
Ironside, who's always fun to watch, even in bad movies. The same,
however, can't be said of Sheedy, who's unconvincing and still has that annoying
"valley girl" voice from her Brat Pack days.
picked up for DVD release by Anchor Bay Entertainment. It's presented in
1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. The
only extras are a theatrical trailer for this film and a few others being
distributed by Anchor Bay.