While a couple of the Buffalo Soldiers are presented with appealing-enough character traits that ultimately endear the audience to them—namely Sergeant Aubrey Stamps (Derek Luke), a decidedly moral, upright man and Private First Class Sam Train (Omar Benson Miller) a cuddly, lovable dunce with a heart of gold who even put his troop’s lives in danger by rescuing an injured eight-year-old Italian boy (Matteo Sciabordi)—these guys are drawn with such broad and predictable strokes that viewers barely get beyond their surface, even though they’re the focus of the story.

As a commentary on racism, Miracle at St. Anna often falls short with depictions of prejudice being limited to predictable displays of gratuitous name calling from their ignorant, all- white superiors and obvious declarations from the African American characters about “feeling more free in a foreign country than at home.” For an issue so incredibly complex and volatile, the only real shock value is that the discussion feels so dumbed down in a movie that’s nearly three-hours long.

With a little editing, not to mention far stronger takeaway value and a tighter script, Miracle at St. Anna could’ve been so much more buzz-worthy and intriguing. But as it stands, it’s flashy and forgettable, probably not the culture-shaping statement that Lee was hoping for.
      
CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Alcohol abuse is depicted.
  • Language/Profanity:  Countless racial epithets, multiple instances where Jesus’ name is taken in vain and plenty of your standard-issue profanity litters the dialogue.
  • Sex/Nudity:  The “some sexual content” warning mostly revolves around one extended, soap opera-esque interracial sex scene with glimpses of female nudity. An earlier scene shows a scantily clad women wearing a paper-thin nightgown in hopes of seducing her lover. Also, Sergeant Stamps turns down the repeated sexual advances of Renata (Valentina Cervi).
  • Violence:  In the opening scene, a postal worker shoots a customer in the face. Later, the extended battle scenes are gritty, shockingly realistic and extensive as soldiers are shot, blown up and tortured in a variety of ways. A movie definitely not for the squeamish, the soldiers’ bloody remains are often shown close up afterward. African American soldiers are also verbally abused repeatedly.

 

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.