It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
The recorded message for the show times at the theater seemed awfully impressed with “A Bridge Too Far”, going so far as to describe it as “one of the most expensive films ever made… Joseph E. Levine spent more than $26 million on it!” Well, Joseph E. Levine may have, but if he did, $26 million wasn't enough. Another $4, $5 million for a nice, intelligent little war picture -- and junk this one -- and the $30 million and change would have been well spent.
Because “A Bridge Too Far” is such an exercise in wretched excess, such a mindless series of routine scenes, such a boringly violent indulgence in all the blood and guts and moans they could find, that by the end we're prepared to speculate that maybe Levine went two or even three bridges too far. The movie's big and expensive and filled with stars, but it's not an epic. It's the longest B-grade war movie ever made.
Epics give us a sense of vast events meaningfully in motion; B movies repeat formulas. “Patton," with its clear understanding of the relationship between its events and its main character, was an intelligent war epic and money well spent. “A Bridge Too Far” marches glumly from one cliché to the next. And when I say the movie's filled with clichés, I'm not just throwing the word in for general effect. No, I'm employing it all too seriously in its dictionary sense.
Because in William Goldman's screenplay, we find: aristocratic British generals (and their inevitable counterparts, good blokes in the ranks), boyish Americans, Germans who march about like wind-up dolls, happy-go-lucky Irish, and, yes, even the brave Dutch lady who takes the wounded into her house. And that's not even counting the Polish general whose first scene is a Polish joke.