War movies generally require big budgets. Recreating the time and era are expensive, not to mention all the elements necessary to stage realistic combat. The WWII drama Come Out Fighting clearly had an insufficient budget. It opens with a fighter plane shooting at a train, which then derails. The CGI used to create that crash is cheap-looking and unconvincing. This prelude is meant to get the film off to a rousing start. Instead, it sets the stage for the disappointment to come.
The pilot in that plane is Frank Ross (Twilight’s Kellan Lutz). He ejects himself after his aircraft is badly damaged by a German plane. This leaves him in enemy territory when he touches ground. A unit of African-American soldiers led by Sgt. “Red” McCarron (Michael Jai White) finds Ross while they’re out looking for their commanding officer, Lt. Robert Hayes (Hiram A. Murray), who escaped after the Nazis ambushed his convoy. With the assistance of tank operator Crecy (Tyrese Gibson), they must find a way to make it safely back to base. Dolph Lundgren has a supporting role as Major Chase Anderson, a high-ranking official.
A movie about the contribution of African-Americans in WWII could be both important and stirring. Come Out Fighting is neither. Writer/director Steven Luke instead trots out a series of war movie cliches and calls it a plot. His characters are one-dimensional. His dialogue is flat. The film has no insight or perspective on the Black experience during the Second World War. Choppy editing does the picture no favors, nor does inferior CGI that renders not only that train but also explosions, smoke, fire, and other elements.
On a historic level, the movie falters just as badly. Glory, Red Tails, Miracle at St. Anna, and Da 5 Bloods all told compelling stories that shed light on the contributions of African-Americans in war. In contrast, Come Out Fighting delves into the subject in the most basic manner. Hayes and Red have a cliched encounter with a racist fellow soldier, and there’s a brief suggestion that Black men are given the unenviable task of digging up land mines. That’s it. Of course, judging from his IMDb page, Luke is a white man, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that he’s got nothing to say on the topic.
Come Out Fighting is just 85 minutes long, yet still feels endless. The film plods along, devoid of anything to earn our investment, unless poor visual effects are of interest to you. It’s a total shame, because Black soldiers played a crucial role in WWII. They deserve to have their memory honored, not exploited for cheap thrills.
out of four
Come Out Fighting is unrated, but contains bloody violence, and strong language. The running time is 1 hour and 25 minutes.