Thursday, September 1, 2016

Movie with Abe: Game of Aces

Game of Aces
Directed by Damian Lay
Released September 2, 2016

War is a frequent backdrop for films, and, unfortunately, history provides a range of options to choose from when selecting a conflict, global or otherwise. Some of these films stage grand scenes with many anonymous soldiers fighting against a legion of enemies, while others pick a narrower focus. Following a single mission can be an effective way to tell a war story by getting to know the individuals involved. “Game of Aces,” which begins in Egypt during World War I, follows an American pilot and British nurse sent into the vast, open Arabian Desert to find a turncoat German soldier with vital information that will be of great help to the Allies.

Eleanor Morgan (Victoria Summer) is the first of the film’s three characters introduced, told by her escorts that it will be a harrowing and dangerous journey, and that she has been selected as a translator for the wild and reckless Captain Jackson Cove (Chris Klein), whose reasons for being grounded are unknown to Eleanor. Neither party is impressed with the other at the start, and their journey into the sandy unknown gives them plenty of time to spend together and enormous opportunity to become angry, due largely to Captain Cove’s drinking and Eleanor’s seeming lack of knowledge about the situation. The man they are searching for, Captain Josef von Zimmerman (Werner Daehn), has been severely wounded in a plane crash and is not in good shape, and it seems unlikely that he will even make it to when his rescuers find him.

With just three actors in its cast and nothing but the sand to serve as a backdrop, this war drama, best described as an adventure film, succeeds rather well. To this reviewer, it’s a far more engaging experience than the similarly-themed Oscar-nominated foreign film “Theeb.” Klein, who was one of the more entertaining parts of “Wilfred,” doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice to star in this vehicle, but his humor serves him well as balanced with an appreciation for the more serious, action-oriented moments. Daehn plays his part well, but the real standout of the film is Summer, a British actress with few film credits to her name who impresses her with a spirited performance that takes into account the two men with whom Eleanor is interacting. She’s the most likeable of the three and anchors this surprisingly dynamic film with a much more intricate and layered story than it seems from the outset. The sandy landscape only serves to enhance that, underscoring this film’s adventure nature.


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