War films are always exciting to see. They don’t come as often as they used to. There’s plenty of cinematic stories in history still waiting to be told. This isn’t one of those stories.
Recon is set during the Second World War in Italy. A group of four American soldiers is sent on a reconnaissance mission after witnessing the murder of an innocent civilian. They are helped along the way by a suspicious local man. Recon would most definitely have been better suited as a short film rather than a full feature. The majority of the film amounts to four soldiers walking around a snowy forest arguing while an old Italian man stares at them. While every so often something reasonably exciting happens.
It isn’t completely starved of interesting plot points. The murder at the beginning of the film is different from a lot of war films. In showing this scene, Recon shows a dark side to the American army in World War Two. Usually, you’ll only have the cliched hero types. The killing carries weight throughout the film. It is often a point of debate during the long hours of walking and arguing. Other than that though you will have seen far better versions of scenes in this film in various other War epics.
One scene that stands out as padded is where all the men are scared to walk over a rope bridge. They proceed to go over the bridge slowly one by one even after establishing that it’s quite clearly very safe to cross. The scene is edited like something big is going to happen but it never does. You could say this is clever but really it’s the thriller equivalent of a fake-out jump scare.
Practically, Recon has nothing really to write home about. The directing, cinematography, music, and acting are all fine but there are no unique selling points. Though, Alexander Ludwig, who plays the lead, is guilty of some slight overacting. Any time something harrowing happens he pulls a face that can only be compared to something you’d do when you’re struggling on the toilet.
During these harrowing moments, the editing gets pretty crazy. Scenes are played in reverse, sometimes on repeat. On one occasion the scene basically plays all over again in a slightly different order. It is one of these scenes that the film opens with. It’s a very jarring experience which thankfully isn’t too common during the film.
From an accuracy point of view, Recon could definitely have done with some sort of advisor. The main cast of soldiers all wear their belts as high as Simon Cowell. The setting of Italy certainly doesn’t feel like Italy. (This is because it’s actually Canada). One Soldier mentions the country Ethiopia, it was called Abyssinia during the war. Little nagging things like this prop up a lot and can ruin the emersion.
Recon is a commendable feat. It manages to get quite a lot out of its clearly small budget but it’s certainly not a career booster.
Dir: Robert David Port
Scr: Robert David Port
Cast: Alexander Ludwig, Sam Keeley, Chris Brochu, Franco Nero
Prd: Richard Bullock, Rick Dugdale
DoP: Edd Lukas
Music: Anders Niska, Klas Wahl
Runtime: 95 mins
Dazzler Media presents Recon on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download 18th January 2021