Welcome to Uninformed Review
A weekly feature where I review a movie, book, or television program that I have not seen and know little about, save for what I can deduce from the title and personnel.
“The English Patient” starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche
This is an action packed World War Two adventure with some of the best special effects I have seen since Jurassic Park. I LOVED IT. Its been out for a few years, so I’ll assmue you’re familiar but if you haven’t seen it yet…
Okay. The movie opens on an airplane battle in the skies above France, October 15, 1918. We see a young hot shot English pilot named Lazlo (Ralph Fiennes) in a dogfight with steely-eyed German foe (Willem Dafoe). The English pilot maneuvers behind the German, but he is too close for missiles and has to switch to guns. Right before he has target lock, the German kills his afterburners and the English jet fighter flies right by, allowing the German to launch a heat-seeking missile. Right before the English pilot ejects he catches a glimpse of the smirking German pilot, and swears to track him down and personally rip that toothbrush mustache off his face. As his plane explodes into fiery wreckage, the English pilot hears his parachute open. He blacks out.
He awakens in a French hospital. He has Memento disease and can’t even remember his own name. A cadre of French intelligence officers, led by Captain Oscar Goldman (Richard Norman Anderson), enter the hospital and usher out the nurses, in order to be alone with the amnesiac Englishman. Goldman declares that they can rebuild him (apparently they have the technology).
Meanwhile the German pilot lands safely back in Germany where he is met by Chancellor Bismarck (Ian McDiarmid) in a sweeping black robe. Bismarck places a paternal hand on the young pilot’s head and says, “Good work, young Hitler… We will watch your career with great interest.”
The movie jumps ahead to October 2, 1939, inside a secret laboratory in Southern France. A bumbling army bureaucrat (Jeff Goldblum) has been tasked to figure out what $6 million in black ops funding has bought the French Government. After trying to blow him off, Captain Goldman leads the bureaucrat, who tries to keep pace while gathering his papers and adjusting his glasses, deep underground. Goldman presents project: English Patient. With the help of IBM technology he has been rebuilt into a powerful Nazi-hunting cyborg, who retains no memories of his past and is programmed to exterminate fascism with extreme prejudice, while serving the public trust, protecting the innocent and upholding the law. The bureaucrat is awed and drops his papers.
A series of action sequences unfolds. Over a pulsing techno beat we see the English Patient throw Nazi tanks at Nazi planes, catch Nazi grenades and hurl them back, and swordfight with Nazi officers wearing eye patches.
In 1945, the English Patient is tasked with one final mission: Enter Berlin to find and kill Hitler. Although he is used to going it alone, the mission will require subtlety as well as brute force, so he is assigned a team. Joining him is a brash demolitions expert (Mario Van Peebles), a sexy linguist, who can sneak the team into Hitler’s compound by speaking German (Julliete Binoche), and a sarcastic young computer expert (Seth Green) who monitors the team from a van disguised a mobile dry cleaning business. As the team sneaks and fights their way into the Eagle’s Nest, Peebles is killed. His death pierces the English Patient’s machine-like composure, and causes him to start remembering bits and pieces of his own, human, past.
Finally, the English Patient enters Hitler’s control room. He confronts Hitler. The English Patient raises his laser arm and targets Hitler…but he can’t fire! Hitler laughs and reveals that the Nazis have infiltrated IBM and programmed the English Patient not to harm any member of the Nazi high command. Hitler explains that it’s a little insurance policy called “Directive 4” Hitler raises a gun, smirks, and says, “I’m so pleased to finish what I started…Lazlo.” Memories flood back and the English Patient realizes Hitler was the pilot who condemned him to his half-human half-machine existence. As he falls to his robo-knees, overwhelmed and facing death, he notices several barrels of carbonite on a walkway above Hitler. He raises his gun. “Lazlo is dead….I am…the English Patient.” The smile falls from Hitler’s face and he snarls, “You can’t kill me!” The English Patient replies, “No. But I can make sure you never kill again.” With that, he shoots the barrels, engulfing the both of them in carbonite. Binoche pounds on the glass from outside the control room and cries.
In the dénouement, we see both the English Patient and Hitler, now encased in carbonite blocks, secured back at the Laboratory. Captain Goldman consoles Binoche and tells her that, someday, when they have the technology, they will revive Lazlo and she will see him again. The camera pans from them to the frozen English Patient…and then to Hitler, before panning up to the dark roof.
The camera pans down to a futuristic control room similar to the one from the 1940s. But the title sequence reveals that this is not 1940s France. It is Moon Base Alpha, 2032. Alarms are wailing and red light floods the room. Captain Goldman IV confronts a shiny-suited technician. Somehow Hitler has escaped and stolen a rocket back to Earth. The technician asks if they should try and pursue Hitler, but Captain Goldman IV says that its too late. They only have one option now. To unfreeze the English Patient and send him back in time to kill Hitler’s mother. As the steam fades from the unfrozen English Patient, his single cybernetic eye lights up red and Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade” starts playing. The End.