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Buffalo Soldiers

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
Buffalo Soldiers
from Film Forum, 08/07/03

Set at an Army Base in West Germany just before the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Buffalo Soldiers focuses on a U.S. military officer (Joaquin Phoenix) who has become skilled in black market operations due to his sheer boredom with his assignment.

When he comes into possession of $5 million in stolen weapons he gets into deep trouble, and only makes things worse when he becomes infatuated with the daughter (Anna Paquin) of a tough new commander (Scott Glenn).

"Buffalo Soldiers aptly resembles the horned animal of its title: a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between," writes David DiCerto (Catholic News Service).

DiCerto explains what he describes as the film's "toxic cynicism": "Challenging the myth of the soldier's 'code of honor' is not novel to the cinema; it's been done effectively countless times in both dramas and comedies. But rather than merely questioning this perhaps over-romanticized notion, Gregor seems hell-bent on demolishing any possibility of belief in virtue among members of the armed forces, neatly dividing his characters into three stereotyped ranks—careerists, clowns or cons. The crude mocking tone … undermines many of the weighty issues raised by the film concerning the hypocrisy of war and the dark side of capitalism unfettered by morality."

Lisa Rice (Movieguide) concludes, "The movie has a peace sign on its poster, and its content is certainly caustic and anti-American."