Starring: Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles
Director: Brian G. Hutton
Running Time: 146 mins
Kelly’s Heroes is an American film about a group of US soldiers who, after hearing of a stash of 14,000 gold bars in a small French town behind Nazi lines, secretly embark on a private mission to steal the gold for themselves.
This movie is a lot of fun. With the same atmosphere as all the classic Hollywood World War Two films, and the added bonus of a make-believe story, Kelly’s Heroes is a very entertaining watch, added to by great performances and good humour throughout, and even if it does drag on a lot at times over the course of its two and a half hour runtime, it’s all an enjoyable and engaging watch.
Let’s start with what I enjoyed most about this movie: the performances. With a motley crew of American soldiers all suddenly deciding to go after some gold instead of going on with the fight, there are a great few lead characters here, all of whom are played brilliantly by a great cast.
Clint Eastwood is as effortlessly charismatic as always, and although he doesn’t speak anywhere near as much as some of his co-stars, his presence throughout, combined with a surprisingly strong comedic side at times, makes him a great watch, and one of the film’s best characters. There’s also Telly Savalas, who’s brilliantly animated from start to finish, and Don Rickles, who offers some great comic relief as well as the endlessly likable average Joe character for you to follow along the way.
Along with the performances, the film’s story is a lot of fun to watch. While there’s always something a little disappointing about a World War Two movie that’s not a true story, this film, in similar fashion to The Eagle Has Landed, lets its imagination run wild with a great story that fits in well with the wartime setting, allowing for a slightly more light-hearted than usual atmosphere throughout.
The plot here isn’t quite as insane as The Eagle Has Landed, but it features all sorts of great action set-pieces, all of which work well in tandem with the film’s lighter vibes, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the action without getting too bogged down in its historical merit. What’s more is that the heist plot allows for a different look into the psyche of a soldier, telling a story that’s not about the intensely patriotic motivation, but a purely personal and material one, something that gives the film another slightly different vibe to what we normally see from war movies.
Director Brian G. Hutton does a good job with this film, giving it that different and light-hearted atmosphere, and although I won’t say that Kelly’s Heroes is a raucously funny, laugh-out-loud comedy, it is indeed an entertaining watch.
The only major issue that I have with the film comes in the form of its runtime, which, at a full two and a half hours, is way too long. It may be a war film, but its lighter atmosphere and generally simpler heist story means that there’s not all that much to fill such a long duration with, leading to a rather slow opening 50 minute exposition phase, as well as some overly drawn-out action sequences, which I found occasionally frustrating.
Overall, however, I had good fun with Kelly’s Heroes. It’s without a doubt too long, and not an absolutely hilarious comedy, but with a fun premise, good performances and a generally strong sense of humour, it’s an entertaining watch right the way through, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.