A Muddled Account of the Vietnam War


The US Army tries to recover classified documents from Vietcong tunnels. Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Connor Paolo, & Aaron Eckhart.

Saban Films

A forward operating base on the front lines of the Vietnam War comes under attack while protecting top-secret intelligence. Ambush, inspired by a true story, tells of the deadly mission to retrieve the stolen docs from the Vietcong in a labyrinthine maze of underground tunnels. The film vacillates between gritty combat, the brotherhood of soldiers, and a labored plot with critical issues. Pacing also becomes a factor during a prolonged and indiscernible subterranean second act. Characters become muddled in confusing settings. A standout performance by the primary protagonist (Connor Paolo) reminds that war is hell and in many cases utterly futile.


General Drummond (Aaron Eckhart) lands in 1966 Vietnam with grave concerns. He’s met by Captain Mora (Gregory Sims), a Green Beret Special Forces Officer. A classified binder with the identities of Vietnamese collaborators has been targeted by the enemy. Drummond has ordered the binder brought to Firebase Argonne in Quảng Trị Provence at the edge of no-mans-land. Mora is to recover the documents at all costs.

Corporal Ackerman (Paolo) is stunned by Mora’s presence. Mora doesn’t think much of the bookish Ackerman and his team of engineers. Ditch diggers aren’t warriors in his opinion. Ackerman’s nervous men see other Special Forces troops come from the bush. They have the binder but took heavy losses.

The Hunter Arrives

Saban Films

The Vietcong hit the base with a ferocious assault. How did they get past the security perimeter? The bloody battle ends in the worst-case scenario. The enemy has the binder. A furious Drummond sends Lt. Col. Miller (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) to the camp. The hunter arrives with his dog and a different strategy. The Vietcong used tunnels to penetrate their defenses. They must find an entrance, infiltrate the network, and retrieve the intelligence. Drummond orders Ackerman’s engineers underground. They have two hours.

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Drummond commands from afar, Mora remains at the firebase, and Miller stays topside with his dog. The narrative follows Ackerman and his novice troops into the lion’s den. Prolific producer, director, and co-writer Mark Earl Burman (Wild Boar, Dog Eat Dog) shows the cold cruelty of military decisions. The engineers are expendable grunts while the Army needs experienced leaders like Mora and Miller. A chess analogy makes sense, but it’s hard to believe a general would be so callous to the lives of his men. Burman makes his point bluntly and without nuance.

Ambush has many supporting characters with dialogue. They carry the film through most of the underground action. It’s difficult to put names to faces in the poorly lit tunnels. On one hand, Burman illustrates the fog of war. The terrified engineers can’t see anything. Every corner could be a booby trap or the enemy. But the audience needs to recognize the soldiers to feel anguish when casualties mount. I could only tell them apart by race and ethnicity. The film needed more exposition to establish familiarity.

Connor Paolo Brings Heart and Realism

Paolo has extensive television credits. I was unfamiliar with him before watching the film. Paolo brings heart and realism as a soldier with an impossible task. The best parts of Ambush has Ackerman rallying his men as they fight to survive. They were woefully unprepared to face a clever enemy defending their homeland. Burman illustrates the incredible sacrifice of young men killed and maimed for pointless objectives. It’s not done artfully, but the message continues to ring true.

Ambush is a production of ADME Studios, BondIt Media Capital, and Dark Mark Productions. It will have a theatrical, VOD, and digital release on February 24th from Saban Films.


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