Published on October 10th, 2011 | by Chris2
The Bomber (2011)
Finally got a chance to sit down with "The Bomber," and although I had to watch it in segments over the busy weekend (its three hours long!) I'm glad I did.
Short version: Russian Bomber pilot Andrei Grivstov (Nikia Efremoy) is shot down over German territory, along with his love and radio operator Katia (Ekaterina Astakhova), and his Navigator, who was able to parachute before they crash. They are separated, as he goes to prison, escapes to fight with guerillas and eventually work his way back to "the world", while Katia is able to infiltrate the German command. The both of them at times are unknowingly close to each other, but never meet again, until the end (whoops! spoiler! But you knew it was coming....) His navigator, well, I'll have to let you watch it for that.
I say short version, because a) This movie is three hours long, and b) It is really fairly complex as far as the plot goes. Forget about a nice, simple, romance set in WWII Europe. The romance is pretty ancillary to the rest of the movie, as is the entire "bomber" premise. Really the aviation aspect only plays out in the first section of the movie, as Grivstov and his crew are nearly shot down once, then actually shot down shortly thereafter.
What you do get, though, is a complex web of a tale of loyalty, intrigue, combat, and betrayal. I'm not even going to begin to try to explain the finer details of the plot. It manages to take several different twists and turns, and does so without that "meandering" feel that can sometimes happen. From their initial crash landing, separation, their separate stories which nearly brings them together a couple of times, the tension between pilot and navigator, the German-induced subversion.... like I said, it can get complicated. But it all pans out in the end. Keep in mind this was initially a TV miniseries, so with that in mind, it makes even more sense.
A big theme of the film (as I saw it with my western eyes) was the ruthlessness of the Russian command. From the beginning where Grivstov is nearly labelled a conspirator for no good reason, to later on when he actually is labelled such (again for no good reason, with no evidence but a photo).... and contrasted with the German command.... Its a fair portrayal of the lesser of two evils. The Stalin regime basically not being much better than what they were fighting, but having to defend their homeland out of necessity....
Production wise I was suitably impressed with The Bomber. Any preconceived notions about the Russians making substandard movies should be chucked right out the window. The only failing to my untrained eye was the CG airborne effects at the beginning. They're still quite excellent, though. Historically accurate? I can't say, but I "bought it", if you take my meaning.
The acting was really the high point of the film, though. The two (three?) principals here really held their own throughout. I can't give enough credit here.
But the action, especially during the final "train" combat sequence, was really, really excellent. Coupled with the aforementioned attention to production (think blowing up trains and bridges) and I was never let down.
If there was a major flaw, I'd have to say it was the subtitles' translations. I don't know Russian to save my own life, but some of the translations given either didn't make sense, used incorrect words/phrases for the context, or were themselves a mash of "foreign english." Leaving out words/grammar that we would consider normal..... A minor nitpick, I know, but a times could leave you having to translate the translation.
And, like I said, don't worry about the "love story" getting in the way. It doesn't. It is what drives the film to its final conclusion, but really at no point does the film really make any concessions to it. That's just my opinion.
The Bomber is definitely worth the foray if you can get a copy (its not out in the states to my knowledge) and can sit down for a few hours, and actually get involved in a decently thought through story. You won't be disappointed.
(Amazon link/info below is to the UK site... FYI)
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