Although the stellar cast is in itself a reason for the three hour ride -admittedly very well orchestrated by Attenborough's academic yet thorough direction- this war film's strengths lie in the high production values (the battle over the Arnhem bridge is as stormy as its steely protagonists promise it to be), in the meticulous strategy and in the characteristic chivalry with which both sides are being portrayed.
Saving Private Ryan-action films can be good, but they show war as chaos, when in fact, its chaos is organized. Here we are invested in the strategy and tactical discussions for victory and of groupthink. It's not anti-war or pro-war, yet about a massacre of Allied Troops in WWII, making it unglorified and about how war may be fought to win, but even the victorious side isn't always, well, victorious in every battle.
Why the lukewarm reputation? Puts a human face on both sides of Operation Market Garden, which it examines from a refreshingly multinational perspective with meticulous authenticity. Battle scenes are visceral and epic in scope, with no shortage of attention paid to gory consequences. Robert Redford gravely screaming Hail Mary during the airborne division's massacre of a river crossing chills to the bone.
What an insane cast, pretty much every main character is one of the most famous actors of all time. The writing was basically wall to wall memorable sequences, like a compilation of the most harrowing moments of Operation Market Garden. It's almost impossible for that not to make for compelling viewing. Very informative, loaded with witty dialogue and great action. I love the flamethrower scene.
Montgomery's masterplan was a desaster: very wishful thinking, poor strategy-leadership-intelligence, underestimated German resistance & the obstacles of terrain. That's history. When it comes to the movie, it's overlong, at times boring. Despite the greatest cast ever ensembled, it simply doesn't work, if you tell, despite all the shortcomings, how great it was. It definitely was not.
While the film definitely has a lot of great scenes and tons of great performers, its much too long. A story about hubris induced slaughter deserved to be much more cutting. Still worth a watch. Side note: not sure if Gene Hackman's accent is incredible or terrible but it's something.
A bit too long and complicated. I guess it's typical in Attenborough films. I was lost in some scenes. Still, there are some good moments (especially, the jumping off of the paratroopers from the planes. The paratroopers were like mushrooms or a bunch of jellyfish gradually falling from the sky. It is delightful.) and good performances.