Antwone Fisher / Men Of Honour 
Suitable for 15 years and over
USA / English
||Denzel Washington; George Tillman Jr.
Autobiographical movies rarely get more truthfully moving than Antwone Fisher
. The title is also the name of this fine drama's first-time screenwriter, a former Navy seaman who was working as a film-studio security guard when his life-inspired script was developed as Denzel Washington's directorial debut. This Hollywood dream gets better: unbeknown to the filmmakers, Derek Luke--a newcomer who won the title role over a throng of famous contenders--was also a friend of Fisher's, and the whole film seems blessed by this fortunate coincidence. Washington's sharp instincts as an actor serve him well, as both a subtle-handed director and Luke's costar playing Jerome Davenport, a Navy psychologist assigned to assess Fisher's chronic violent temper. Their therapy sessions prove mutually beneficial, as this touching true story addresses painful memories, broken desires, and heartfelt reunions without resorting to a contrived happy ending. Fisher's good life is worth celebrating, and Washington brings a delicate touch to the party. --Jeff Shannon
Originally, Men of Honour was simply called Navy Diver and no doubt all involved held high hopes that it would be an award-winning biopic. Unfortunately, Carl Brashear's life as the first African-American Master Diver went through that vaguely distasteful contemporary Hollywood Marketing makeover and the result is not quite so worthy of its subject and intentions. The film's hopelessly clichéd tagline reads, "History is made by those who break the rules"; the direction is shot through with sunsets 'n' slow-mo; and the script is peppered with foreshadowing dialogue ("don't end up like me, son"). The plot devices follow a predictable arc: family poverty, a swiftly sweet romance, a shock accident, court hearing and, naturally, a grisly antagonist. It's with the last of these that the movie comes to life. We may have seen DeNiro spit nails countless times before, but his saltily intractable Master Chief is a terrific screen creation. Next to him, Cuba Gooding Jr really does shine as the endlessly persecuted Brashear. All-too brief cameos from Charlise Theron and Michael Rapaport lend sparkle too. But the film's message about how social attitudes toward race have changed is lost in a murky haze of Hollywoodisation. As one character declares, "some things just don't mix". --Paul Tonks
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