Synapse // 1979 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 11th, 2013
In Vietnam, the name of the game is survival...
From Synapse, an overseas import from way back when, during the heyday of Vietnam War moviemaking. The Odd Angry Shot is an Australian film (shame on me for not knowing the Aussies were in Vietnam as well), telling the saga of a detachment of soldiers that try to offset the ravages and lunacy of way with the banality of card-playing and beer-drinking.
Bill (John Jarratt) is a young, naïve man who looks a lot like John Stockton and is headed to the jungles of a Vietnam, which sucks because just got to make out with some girl on the grass. He lands in a company led by the gruff Harry (Graham Kennedy). He soon falls into the routine: wile away the hours with everyday time wasters until "the odd angry shot" rings out and everything goes straight to hell.
This is the thrust of the film, the examination of men who find themselves shifting from extreme boredom to outright terror. The beats that unfurl in the film are methodical, almost symmetrical. Some stuff with the guys, gathered around the table hoisting beers and slinging cards and talking crap. Then a mortar goes off or their unit is deployed into the melting junk of the jungle and bullets whistle by.
That's what you're getting with The Odd Angry Shot. There's war action, sure, but it's not sensationalized or shot to great visceral effect. The choreography is utilitarian, not designed to maximize thrills. In this sense, it's a "realistic" portrayal of the war, down to the gore (which is fairly copious).
The big problem? The whole thing just feels so dated. As a time capsule looking into an era of filmmaking, there's value in taking this for a spin. But the Vietnam experience is so unique and so remote now (and so omnipresent at one time, so there's no shortage) it would mean The Odd Angry Shot would have to be bringing something remarkable to the table to rise above. It's good, but it's not that good.
Good Blu-ray: 1.78:1/1080p (from the original vault materials), DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio, commentary with producer/director Tom Jeffrey, producer Sue Milliken and actor Graeme Blundell, and a stunts featurette
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1979
MPAA Rating: Not Rated