Stars: Powers Boothe, David Conrad, Robert De Niro, Jr. Cuba Gooding, Hal Holbrook
Genre: Biography, Drama
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 128 minutes
Men of Honor presents a great role model for younger viewers, yet it's rated R due to abundant use of the F word. With appropriate discretion, parents should allow their preteen and teenaged children to see this rousing if altogether conventional biopic inspired by the life of Carl Brashear. Played with gravity and gumption by Cuba Gooding Jr., Brashear was the first African American to become a master diver in the U.S. Navy, despite the lingering effects of segregation, opposition from Navy brass, and the amputation of his left leg following a tragic on-duty accident. Robert De Niro adds marquee value and salty bluster as Billy Sunday, the drunken, redneck (and fictionalized) Master Chief who watches, with gradual admiration, as Brashear attains his ultimate goal through sheer force of will. This is all quite uplifting on its surface, but in attempting to hit the requisite highlights of an inspiring biography, director George Tillman Jr. (Soul Food) reduces Brashear's achievement to a succession of clichés, forcing Gooding and De Niro to battle sentiment with their noteworthy performances. As Sunday's neglected wife, Charlize Theron is completely extraneous; Hal Holbrook's diving-school commander is a ranting caricature; and newcomer Aunjanue Ellis barely registers as Brashear's wife (in part because their obligatory romance is handled with an utter lack of finesse). There's no question that Brashear's efforts are heroic and worthy of recognition, so Men of Honor serves its basic purpose. Still, one can't help but wonder if Brashear's story would be even more impressive with a more authentic treatment. --Jeff Shannon
My name is Master Chief Billy Sunday. There was a preacher by the same name who cleaned up Chicago of all the whoring spics, drunken wops and motherfucking niggers that was making that place unfit for decent white folks to live. The only difference between me and that old preacher is that he worked for God, and I *am* God!
Forgive me sir, but to me, the Navy isn't a business. It's an organization of people who represent the finest aspects of our nation. We have many traditions. In my career, I have encountered most of them. Some are good, some not so good. I would, however not be here today were it not for our greatest tradition of all.
And what would that be, Chief Brashear?"
" Honor, sir"
Sir, you may not remember me but we served together in the South Pacific.
Oh Yeah, I remember you now... So What's for Chow Cookie?
Sir I am reporting here for diving school!
I sure hope your food is better than the last cook's. Last cook's food could kill a man's dog.