Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

How can we best describe ‘The Veteran’?  Let’s say ‘The Veteran’ is like ‘Platoon’ if ‘Platoon’ was really shitty.  Or maybe ‘The Veteran’ is a lot like ‘Full Metal Jacket’ if directed by Stanley Kubrick while high on crack.  Basically what we’re trying to say here is that ‘The Veteran’ isn’t a very good movie.  It’s fairly lame, truth be told.  But I did take the time to watch it, and now it’s time I told you about it.

Brat Packer Ally Sheedy, for the youths out there, the brat pack was my generations ‘Death Row’ only without the black people.  Anyway, Sheedy plays Emma, or something, I can’t remember her name at the moment, who works for a government agency trying to recover some of the missing 1800 vets from Vietnam.  Yes, that war has been over for 34 years, and yes, Vietnam has McDonalds and stuff now.  You’d have to be a helly asshole to still be holding POW’s some 34 years later.  Emma, or whatever her name was, gets a letter and heads over to Vietnam where ex-vet Ray (Bobby Hosea) has also received an anonymous letter, and is over their checking out some missing vet or something.  Ray struggled after the war, but now he’s a minister and will probably be a congressman real soon.  Before he meets this anonymous vet, Ray pays a visit to his ex-plaything from back in the war, apologizing for knocking her up and abandoning her and her now thirty year old son.  She tells him to shut the f@#k up, and get the f@#k out.  Then the thirty year old son cries and runs away like a bitch.

Anyway, when Ray gets back to his room he’s met by some old guy with a gun.  Ray can’t remember who he is, but after a few minutes of commiseration, the guy turns out to be ex-POW Doc (Michael Ironside – taking his overacting to new peaks).  Ray thought Doc was dead, Doc says ‘no dude, I was POW for six years AFTER

the war’.  Ray says ‘that sucks for you Doc, why didn’t you come home?’  Doc says, uh, because everyone thought I was dead already?  And Vietnam has Mickey D’s and stuff.  I threw that in.  Doc hates Ray because Ray betrayed his trust.  Ray doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  Doc reminds Ray when he outed himself to Ray.  Ray remembers that now.  Folks gave President Clinton a hard time about that ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell policy’, but there were reasons for that.  Doc got overrun by the VC and subsequently assumed that Ray didn’t go to save him because he was gay.  Ray says no,  it was because he didn’t want die either.  Then the twist comes, you shake your head and wonder what the hell you just watched.

‘The Veteran’ consists of two old dudes sitting in a cramped hotel room telling stories in flashback.  These stories are being listened to by Sheedy and some FBI agents across the way in another cramped hotel room.  The flashbacks illustrate the ‘horrors’ that took place during the war.  Director Sydney J. Furey, who made one of my favorite movies, 1973’s ‘The Hit’ with Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor, does an absolutely awful job conveying the horrors of war.  One must assume that budgetary constraints were the main issue.  Our actors were so far away from any of the explosions that took place, one never felt they were any kind of danger.  Apparently they wanted us to know what a bastard Ray was during the war, but the worst thing Ray did, as far as I could tell, was not stop his men from burning down a grass hut.  Quite honestly, were it not for my father’s Vietnam horror stories, watching this gives the notion that Vietnam consisted off smoking a lot of marijuana, having a lot easy free sex, walking in park, occasionally dodging a bullet and hating on the gay dude.  And not that gay dudes act a certain way, mind you, but Michael Ironside as a gay dude just wasn’t working.  And what soldier in their right mind would declare themselves as gay to their testosterone swelled, beer swilling, M14 toting, mama san porking command sergeant.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that or anything, but maybe we should talk to the chaplain as opposed to Sarge, the raging homophobe.

Then there’s the twist.  Oh don’t get me started about these twists that come out of nowhere in these movies.  Regardless, rest assured that ‘The Veteran’ is about one of the worst films you’ll see this year, so take my sage advice and avoid this completely.  I’m only thinking of you.

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