Heartbreak Ridge (1986) Heartbreakingly Bad

Shameful and painful. Shameful to admit I watched this crap and painful to have watched it. I wasn’t even sure whether I should review it on account of the shame factor. I mean, seriously, there is a bit of a reputation at stake, right? But then I thought, I might save someone the time or direct those who would like this movie towards it. I’m sure there are people out there who did or would appreciate this. Anyone who is planning on having an affair with their ex-husband/wife might learn a few things.

The beginning of Heartbreak Ridge isn’t all that bad. I can really sympathize with people who have a problem with their superiors, especially when those superiors do not seem to have reached their position through knowledge and capability but purely by chance or through the right connections.

Gunnery Sgt Tom Highway (Clint Eastwood) is a hardened veteran of two wars. He has done more than one tour in Vietnam and is most certainly not the guy to be posted in an office or someone who should be doing some menial task. Since his divorce, and most probably also before, he is a bit too keen on drinking and this, plus a tendency to insubordination, gets him frequently into trouble.

Being a highly decorated soldier and really liked by his friends he is given another chance. Just before his retirement he is sent back to his old unit in Cherry Point, North Carolina. He had been transferred from there, once more, because of insubordination. At present he is appointed trainer of a reconnaissance platoon with a very bad reputation of being true slackers.

Up to this point the movie is ok but then it tumbles down rapidly. Some new characters are introduced which are meant to be funny but are not. The platoon consists of a bunch of cheeky boys reminiscent of some high school comedy. There is a lot of growling and muscle action from the Gunnery Sgt and a lot of cheerless fun from the boys. Plus the ex-wife is introduced and to make matters worse we are served a corny version of the “How to date your ex” romance (it’s so unsexy).

If you think by now, this must be bad, you will be surprised to hear that it got worse. The platoon who, of course, has become one of the most worthy in a short time, is sent to the island of Grenada to liberate some American hostages. Those poor school girls have been captured by Cuban soldiers. Those mean men have a habit of losing their Havanas and that’s how the Gunnery Sgt found out who the enemy is (it’s quite subtle). What was so far a movie about military life + a parody of boot camps turns into a real war movie but of a tacky variety.

I don’t understand why Clint Eastwood accepted this role. I really have no problem with the guy, I even thought his acting was by far the best thing this movie had to offer. Rating? Should I rate it? 1.5/5

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4 thoughts on “Heartbreak Ridge (1986) Heartbreakingly Bad

  1. warmoviebuff says:

    I am a big Eastwood fan and ,of course, a huge war movie fan and yet I have seen this only once and that was decades ago. That should tell you something. I plan to rewatch it., but your review reminds me that it will be a chore. BTW that’s a pretty uninteresting war to make a movie about.

    • I quite like Eastwood but he has made af ew weird choices movie wise. Gran Torino was outstanding compared to this.
      I was thinking after having posted my review that one should watch this as a romance or purely as a character study. It might work then. I love his insubordination. But as a war movie, especially with the boot camp and war scenes being ludicrous…

  2. About the only thing this movie contributed to my life was an awareness of the term “clusterf***”, which has proven occasionally useful over the years and also describes this movie very well.

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