Buffralo Soldiers stars Joaquin Phoenix as Ray Elwood, a drug-dealing thief who keeps his fellow soldiers at a US army base in Germany supplied with the bare essentials.
Basic rations for this bunch of druggies, killers, racists and pimps are a little different than the norm and Ray is the man to supply them, at any cost.
Ray’s day job sees him holding the fort as assistant to base commander Colonel Berman (Ed Harris).
Ray is in charge of requisitions and supplies and this provides him with the ideal opportunity to siphon off a little extra for himself to keep the wheels of his black market business running smoothly.
He’s also a dab hand at cooking drugs and he buys and prepares heroin for the base’s main drug dealer, Sergeant Saad (Sheik Mahmoud Bey).
Ray’s operation is thrown into chaos when the bases’ latest recruit, top Sergeant Lee (Scott Glenn), a Vietnam veteran with a reputation as a man not to be messed with, decides to pull the plug on the operation.
Ray accepts the challenge head on and even goes as far as dating the Sergeant’s daughter, Robyn (Anna Paquin), a wild child who introduces him to ecstasy. The deadly battle for supremacy between Elwood and Lee can only have one winner.
To say that Buffalo Soldiers is an unpatriotic look at military life would be an understatement. Gone are the stereotypical images of war heroes willing to lay down their lives for their country.
These soldiers are the scum of the earth and it’s no surprise that most of the movie world wanted nothing to do with this controversial film after the events of September 11.
Brave though the making of this film might have been, it just doesn’t live up to its billing. The main problem is that director Gregor Jordan doesn’t give us anyone to side with.
Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the roguish Elwood is flat, while Scott Glen should be shot for treason for his performance as Sergeant Lee. At ease soldier.
A good idea, but not a great film.
Drama. 18. **