Thursday, May 31, 2012
Review of FOR GREATER GLORY (2012)
- Rated R for war violence and some disturbing images.
- Starring Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Oscar Isaac, Bruce Greenwood, Ruben Blades, Peter O'Toole, Bruce McGill, Catalina Sandino Moreno
- Written by Michael Love
- Directed by Dean Wright
- Running time: 2hrs 22min
Based on a true account of the Cristeros War in Mexico from 1926-1929. The Government was against Christianity and this is about how the Christians banded together to fight the system. There are many characters (too many) in this film. To be honest, I saw this movie about 2 months ago and I'm trying to remember who everyone was. For some reason, I don't remember Eva Longoria in this at all. Whoops! I know Andy Garcia plays Enrique, a born leader who is an atheist, but ends up taking charge of the Christians cause his wife is religious. I think that's who Longoria plays, his wife. Yeah, I think. Anyway, then we have Oscar Isaac as El Catorce, a sort of lone gunman who's a bad ass. There are also a few kid characters who want to fight for the cause that Enrique grows attached to. Rueben Blades is appropriately sinister as the head of the Mexican Government, Calles. The first half of the film is an introduction to it's many characters, building up to the war that makes up more of the second half.
I had no idea what type of movie this was going to be, so I was surprised when it turned out to be an action film. That would be the film's greatest strengths. Director Dean Wright knows how to properly stage and execute battles. The best ones were the smaller and more sustained gunfights, usually involving El Catorce, who has a kick ass introduction as he takes out some baddies. The bigger battles at the end were also riveting. If you like epic war movies, you might like it.
Unfortunately, I need a bit more than just some swell battle scenes. The film is nearly 2 and a half hours, and it hurts it in more ways than ones. It tries too hard to tell several stories, but some are more developed than others. The most interesting character for me was El Catorce, but after the first half, he's not in it a whole lot. They build him up to make it seem he will be important to the plot later, but he isn't. This movie either needed to be longer, to expand the storylines that were lacking, or shorter, cutting all the stories and characters that weren't fully developed.
Andy Garcia does solid work here as Enrique. He's a fine actor and it's nice to see him dig into a meaty role here. Oscar Isaac is terrific as the lone gunman who felt like a great western legend. There are a few other known actors in smaller parts, like Peter O'Toole as a doomed priest, and Bruce Greenwood as an American Ambassador who can't seem to help out the Mexican people.
The direction is good, but the script really needed to be shopped out. There are moments that I enjoyed quite a bit, and the story is worth telling I think. The action scenes distracted me from it's weaknesses from time to time, but not enough for me to fully recommend the film. It's a nice try, but it doesn't quite make it. Well crafted technically, too bad it has a scattershot script.
**1/2 (out of ****)