I SAY, CRIKEY, CHAPS: SOME SPOILERS! DASH IT ALL!
It is bizarre what film-makers sometimes come up with as potential hits: ideas that simply don't stir the dreams and imaginations the way they did decades ago. Westerns and musicals don't grab anyone's attention these days; the knuckle-headed action thudfest is out of favour. They don't even make Foreign Legion movies any more (occasionally someone will have a go, as with Jean-Claude Van Damme's unremarkable Legionnaire). And we've also let the Second World War Guys On A Mission genre drop, which on one level is surprising as we used to be so proficient at it, but on another level is only to be expected as, for better or worse, it's increasingly seen as ancient history. But it's odd to see something so modern and yet so old-fashioned at the same time as this peculiar offering which attempts to fuse the frankly hokey WW2 action movie with 21st Century cinematic sensibilities.
Allegedly based on fact (for which you can safely read "completely made up"), Age Of Heroes details the formation of 30 Commando, a unit created in 1940 by a certain Ian Fleming to carry out secret assignments behind enemy lines. Headed by Sean Bean, the team's first mission is Operation Grendel: to contact the resistance agent known as Beowulf, destroy a German radar tower in Norway and steal as much information as possible about the advanced technology behind it. Inevitably, the already slim odds deteriorate steadily as the Nazi platoon home in....
Were it not for the slew of F-words, this would basically be a perfectly average schedule filler for Saturday afternoons: it's a bit Where Eagles Dare, a bit The Dirty Dozen, a bit The Guns Of Navarone. But with the near-top billing of the mysteriously prolific Danny Dyer it actually becomes something far less enjoyable: yet again he's playing a character profoundly difficult to like, even after all those London gangster movies and the terrible Doghouse, where he's at his laddish, oafish, sexist worst. The result is that it's incredibly jarring to hear so much F-ing in something so thoroughly hokey and outdated you wonder why it doesn't have a Ron Goodwin score, and why David Niven or Robert Shaw aren't in it. Baffling.