Thursday, July 04, 2024

Murder Company, Co-Starring Kelsey Grammer

Phonies talk tough, but the truth is no group killed more fascists than the American military. They were also fighting real, heavily armed fascists, who fought back. It was a brutal, bloody business—and this would be an appropriate day to thank them. A ragtag group of soldiers are in for a particularly rough mission in Shane Dax Taylor’s Murder Company, which releases in theaters and on demand and digital this Friday.

After an unusually unfortunate jump, most of Sgt. Southern’s company are dead or missing. However, he soon finds Pvt. Coolidge, a friend and comrade separated from a segregated unit and supposedly reassigned to Southern’s. Gen. Hastings lumps them together with several other strays for a dangerous assignment, under the command of Lt. Smith.

It is a two-parter. Rescue French resistance Daquin, who will then guide them to Major General Erik Ramsey, the National Socialist officer in charge of military transportation for all of Europe. The goal is to decapitate him before the D-Day landing. Yes, this is technically an assassination mission, but Daquin, who happens to be a crack shot with a sniper rifle, will handle the killing. Some of the men still have qualms, but viewers won’t after watching Ramsey’s skill as a torturer.

Purportedly, Jesse Mittelstadt’s screenplay is based on a “true story,” but that probably just means American did indeed fight Germany in WWII. It is hard to imagine Coolidge integrating a regular platoon and it is even tougher to figure how Haskel could have men holding a bridge for Americans coming from Normandy Bridge, but whatever. It is a WWII movie in which the Americans are the good guys. The bad guys are the Germans and they are particularly bad. In fact, they are part of the so-called “Murder Division,” so if Smith’s company bests them through covert action, they can take the “Murder” name for themselves.

Murder Company
was definitely produced on a frugal budget, but it wisely leans into its grunginess, eschewing explosive spectacle. Most of the warfighting consists of close-quarters ambushes, sniper attacks, and fire fights at either the squad or platoon level. (Frankly, the Murder Company really isn’t big enough to be a company.) Regardless, the combat tends to be personal and very deadly.

Although Kelsey Grammer is best known for Fraser Crane, he has also portrayed several military officers. Arguably, the steely decisiveness of his performance here will make Haskell the kind of general many junior officers would wish they reported to. His grit matches that of the film in general and Joe Anderson and William Moseley, as Smith and Southern, in particular.

Indeed, they both look appropriately tough and haggard. There is nothing glamorous about their work, which makes it highly credible. On the other hand, as Daquin, Gilles Marini looks out of place and way too healthy for a man viewers see rescued from a Nazi dungeon.

Murder Company
is far from the most complex or visually impressive WWII movie you will ever see, but it understands who its audience is rooting for and why. Like the American soldiers in harm’s way, it isn’t always pretty but it gets the job done. Recommended as a down-and-dirty satisfyingly to the point tribute to the American fighting men of WWII, Murder Company bafflingly releases tomorrow (7/5) rather than today. Happy Independence Day.