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3.8 out of 5 stars
Deserter [DVD]
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This is a 2002 film that has been re released to shamelessly cash in on the increasingly deserved success of screen hunk, Tom Hardy (`Warrior' etc). It places his name up front but he is not the star. This is the film of the auto biopgraphy by Simon Murray - `Legionnaire'. Murray is played by Paul Fox, who must be related to a side board his acting is so wooden. His previous acting highs have come in the TV soap `Coronation Street' and the voice of Corff the bartender in video game `Dragon Age II'!

Well the plot goes that he gets rebuffed by a lady and in stiff upper lipped fashion he runs off to join the romance of The French Foreign Legion as his hero is Errol Flynn. His timing is pretty off as this coincides with the Algerian awakening for independence and as France has just been kicked out of Vietnam there are not that many places for him to be sent - so Algeria it is.

First he has to suffer boot camp and it is really not a very nice place at all and is actually done rather well. There he meets Mr Hardy playing Dupont a Frenchman. The film follows the ever increasing fractionalisation of the authorities in Algeria as Mr Murray becomes a sort of tourist historian. He goes for walks in the souks and visits mosques to learn about the Islamic culture and it is all a bit cringe worthy, I actually thought this is all a bit history for dummies at one point.

There is some action with explosives and shoot outs and an almost love interest with a certain Nicole - who phoned in her performance. It was all a bit too trite for my liking, if you know zilch about that period of history then this may have more merit as it is there is nothing new to learn here except maybe that if you get jilted then instead of running off to join the French Foreign Legion you may want to consider on line dating as an alternative.

Fans of Tom Hardy will not be that impressed with his on screen time either and there are much better films out there; `Battle for Algiers' being a classic and the less well known `Intimate Enemies' is well worth checking out. In English and some French this is a good book that has made an average film, but if you are still interested then I would advise going pour la rental.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The year is 1960. Simon Murray (Paul Fox) joins the French Foreign Legion because of his romantic notions. It is an iron clad contract for 5 years during which he is sent to Algeria where the Arabs are fighting for Independence. Like "Full Metal Jacket" the film takes you through the rigors of training with cruel and sadistic trainers. The diverse group of trainees bond together. Simon supplies us with some boring first person narration to the background of some melancholy French tune.

Simon makes it through training, and life gets better...almost. He gets a "Dear John" letter and wants to leave. In town he discovers the locals hate the French and want their independence. His romantic notions have placed him on the wrong side, one that he is committed to be a part. His ideas of life become confused and tested in the reality of life and conflict. There are French and Algerians who are on both sides of the independence movement, primarily for economic reasons.

In many ways this movie mimics the US involvement in Vietnam, and just about any war against colonization. There is a major exception to this film in that...well I will let that one go as that becomes the twist in the tale. And even though it may be history, it was history I was unaware.

The acting was acceptable. The film jumps from scene to scene. You don't know how one scene ends before you are in a scene you wonder how it began. Perhaps this was deliberately done by the director so the audience can feel the confusion of the main character, or maybe it was just poor writing and editing. This is one of those areas where one person sees genius and another sees idiot.

The action is light. The drama involves mostly men. There is next to no humor. Excessive first person narration with a mediocre sound track. A story that is theme heavy.

No-f-bombs, sex, or nudity. Most of the actual killing is off camera.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2013
I happens to know Simon Murray, and that is why I bought this DVD. We also served together in the legion, but this movie is very disappointing. I reckon Simon should do a remake and stick closer to his real life story. For instance, Tunisia would look a lot more like eastern Algeria than Marocco does,and which is where this movie was shot. Also, Simon finished his 5 years as Caporal Chef (chief corporal), two green and one gold chevron, in the movie he had suddenly jumped the ranks to Sergeant Chef, 3 gold chevrons. Come on, Simon, the truth is much more interesting than this rubbish.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2010
'Legionnaire', Simon Murray's account of his service in the French Foreign Legion between 1960-65 is one of THE classic military memoirs. He joined during the fag end of the Algerian War and witnessed some interesting times as the French began to fight amongst themselves and Algeria spiralled into chaos in the run up to independence in 1962. Unfortunately you won't get much sense of this from 'Deserter'. Sure, it's a handsome enough production, shot on location in Morocco, which makes the most of its modest budget but the problem lies in the acting, particularly in (I stand corrected) Paul Fox as the lead. Murray was by his own account a callow, naive youth but Fox certainly puts the blank in 'kepi blanc', and Tom Hardy is far more convincing as his friend (and ultimately nemesis) Dupont. The film briefly covers the 1961 army coup attempt and the fascist OAS terrorism in which Legion deserters played a leading role, but the main impression is of Murray as a bystander rather than a participant in history; his 'excursions' into Islamic culture, for example, are toe-curlingly embarrassing. I'd recommend Murray's book unreservedly but the film (which he had a hand in producing) is really only for die-hard Legion enthusiasts.
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on 12 July 2013
I agree with many other reviewers that much better films about legionnaires - or indeed about anything - have been made. Actually, the portion of the film focussing on the training is not altogether uninteresting, but the script is otherwise quite bad, the characters' motivations totally unclear most, if not all of the time.

In defence of the marketing of the re-release, I will say that it's not entirely unreasonable to feature Tom Hardy as noticeably as they have done: his role is quite essential, and he has almost as much screen time as the main character. So anyone wanting to buy this purely to see him should go ahead. Just don't expect much of a movie experience.
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on 13 February 2015
This film wasn't what I expected it to be. The scenery was stunning and the acting fantastic but I found it a little slow at times - however, it is still worth watching and, as always, Tom Hardy is his usual 'moody' self. The story is based in the 60's and the French Foreign Legion and two characters that enlist - The Legion isn't as glamorous or as romantic as one might envisaged (which is obvious by the training they receive.) Naturally there is a lot more to the plot than just the new recruits and I am sure the majority of viewers will enjoy watching the film.
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on 23 March 2015
This is a hard hitting film from start to finish. It shows the brutality of the Legion training to the darkened mind of the finished solider who was told "not to think" and "not to feel".! I really liked how the struggle in the mind of Murray was painted in this masterpiece not to mention the great acting by all the actors which is what made this film REAL to me. You get to see what makes these men the greatest fighting unit on the planet.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2012
This is up there with the worst movies I have ever seen. To begin with, the fact that the DVD says '2012' is false. It was released some years ago and is clearly just remarketed on the continuing success of Tom Hardy. The acting is very, very poor. Even Tom Hardy struggles to get pass marks for his limited ability to put on a French accent. The story line really lacks any impact (aside from maybe the last couple of minutes) or direction and I was very disappointed on the whole. I am a massive Tom Hardy fan and this was the sole reason I bought this film. If this is the same for anyone else, please take my advice and do not waste your time.
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on 31 May 2013
Im a big fan of Tom Hardy anyway so this film was a treat for me.The story line was good and kept me interested till the very end and its based on a true story so was more enjoyable.This film is before Hardy started getting popular so now he is an even better actor but for hardy fans this good for your collection.
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on 18 February 2014
Theres a reason why you haven't heard of this film... its awful!

Very little characterisation, tenuous plot, cheaply shot.

Even my Tom Hardy obsessed girlfriend fell asleep.
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