1917 ★★½

Back when 1917 went into development, I had rather high hopes. Mendes' has had a bizarrely mixed career, with even some of his more well-received efforts falling flat (his Bond entries are *not* good folks, sorry. Especially the Mission: Impossible aping Spectre.), but his prior take on war, Jarhead, is astounding.

So...while I won't quite go for calling the "single" take look entirely a gimmick, as many have taken to doing, it's certainly an empty exercise in ego. The films that have successfully justified such an undertaking have used it for a *purpose*. Here, it has none beyond, well, showing that they could do it.

Yes, as everyone is declaring, Roger Deakins is incredibly gifted, and his talents are what makes this even near to something that works. Praise to him. Nonetheless, Mendes isn't employing the technique in any way that feels genuine or necessitated.

It's ultimately just a distraction from what should have been a powerful war story. After all, it's not often we get a World War I film. Instead, you're sitting there noting the occasionally clumsy shots necessary to keep the "single" take going, and working out where they snuck cuts in. A human story really does not require this amount of technical boasting and posturing.

It also drags down a relatively flimsy story, dependent on McGuffins, awkward CGI, and a generic 'go here, find this guy, do that' plot. This, combined with the "one" take, leave stretches of 1917 feeling like an in-game cut scene in something EA might release.

I wish this film didn't leave me as cold as it did, but, hey, here we are.

If this wins a bunch of Oscars over something more urgent, it will speak yet again as to why folk so despise the Academy.

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