Too Late the Hero (1970)

Genres - Action, Drama, War  |   Sub-Genres - War Adventure  |   Run Time - 133 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Donald Guarisco

On the surface, Too Late The Hero seems like a conventional war movie: there's a motley gang of soldier heroes, an impossible mission and plenty of tense action. That said, director and co-writer Robert Aldrich handles the material in a way that ensures Too Late The Hero never comfortably fits into the tradition of wartime derring-do. The story takes great pains to show that the soldiers' mission is a pointless one and that there are good and bad soldiers on both sides of the conflict. Thankfully, Aldrich and company put across their cynical message in an exciting manner: the film is full of taut, suspenseful action setpieces and the run-for-cover finale is a genuine nail-biter. Too Late The Hero also benefits from excellent performances: Cliff Robertson and Michael Caine are charmingly anti-authoritarian as the film's pair of rebellious heroes while Denholm Elliott registers strongly as a leader who hangs on to formalities in the face of madness. Ken Takakura is equally worthy of note as the Japanese leader, bringing a sense of dignity and honor to the role that helps to humanize his position as the 'enemy.' In the end, Too Late The Hero manages to maintain its anti-war agenda while still delivering plenty of excitement and this makes it an interesting bridge between the traditional war films that preceded it and the critical-minded war films that would come out after the Vietnam War.