Men of Honor

You can't say Carl Brashear doesn't deserve this solid, old school biopic. With guts and pig headed determination this sharecropper's son signed up for the US Navy in the early '50s, and worked his way through the entrance exam to train as a salvage diver, becoming the first ever black man to qualify. If the institutional racism he has to overcome is hardly a surprise, this occasionally stodgy film offers the striking reminder of the terrifying conditions under which divers worked. Tough enough for any able-bodied man, but even the loss of half a leg in a shipboard accident doesn't deter Brashear from his dedication to duty. Gooding's central performance certainly does the man justice, embodying the strength of will never to take 'no' for an answer. Master Captain Billy Sunday (De Niro), the hard nosed training instructor under pressure to fail Brashear, understands what it means to work your way up, and the growing of respect between these two adversaries lends the proceedings its sturdy narrative fibre. Elsewhere the characterisation is less sure, with Holbrook's racist navy commander a too-obvious loony, and Theron's Mrs Sunday a masochistic puzzle. But when director Tillman takes his camera underwater we too are holding our breath.

Release details

Duration: 128 mins

Cast and crew

Director: George Tillman Jr
Screenwriter: Scott Marshall Smith
Cast: Robert De Niro
Cuba Gooding Jr
Hal Holbrook
Charlize Theron
Aunjanue Ellis
David Keith
Michael Rapaport
Powers Boothe
Joshua Leonard
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