Come Out Fighting (2022) Review
In Come Out Fighting writer/director Steven Luke returns to some of the themes of his previous film, Operation Seawolf, World War II and the contribution of African American units to the war effort. That’s certainly an area with a lot of potential for telling a compelling story but given the lacklustre plotting and pacing of that film, the question is can he tell one?
As the film opens, a couple of US pilots are heading back to base when they spot a German supply train and take a pass at it. They destroy the train, but it also leaves them in the sights of an ME 262. One of the pilots, Lieutenant Ross (Kellan Lutz, Twilight, The Expendables 3) manages to bail out, but he’s far behind enemy lines.
Elsewhere, Allied forces under the command of Major Anderson (Dolph Lundgren, Section 8, Black Water) have been held up by a minefield. A mine disposal crew, Lieutenant Hayes (Hiram A. Murray, Anonymous Killers, The Last Son), Sergeant McCarron (Michael Jai White, Black Friday, Dead Zone) and Private Buttons (Rich Lowe, The Oratory, The Great War). But before they can complete the assignment the Germans launch an attack.
Hayes is accused of causing the ambush by not clearing the mines in time, although the fault is actually on the troops who failed to scout and clear the area. He’s sent back to division HQ pending an investigation, but the convoy gets lost and ends up behind German lines and under attack. He escapes in the confusion and runs into Lieutenant Ross in the woods.
If you can forgive the horrible CGI planes and train in the opening sequence, the first half hour of Come Out Fighting isn’t too bad. Luke shows a better grasp of how to stage a ground battle than he did at putting naval warfare on the screen and both of the combat scenes we get are effective if brief.
What’s less effective is, well just about everything else in Come Out Fighting which leans heavily on clichés. There’s the unit from the South who are so racist they refuse Hayes’ help even though he knows the area they’re travelling through. Of course, they’re also so incompetent they can’t hear German armour pulling up in front of them. Major Anderson wants to send a party looking for Hayes, but headquarters has different priorities, so he can’t do anything until it’s pointed out the missing white pilot is somewhere in the same sector.
Most of the film’s midsection is comprised of preparations to go looking for Hayes either unofficially or after Anderson talks to the coincidentally nearby General Patton (Gary David Keast, Gehenna, The Devil’s Hour) “You’re in charge of those black tankers, mighty fine job you’re doing with those boys”, officially. Occasionally we get to see Ross and Hayes squabble and, speaking of coincidences, run afoul of another minefield.
I understand that this was filmed on a less-than-lavish budget, and things like renting period armour and uniforms ate a large chunk of it. But if you’re going to switch away from the action, you need solid dialogue to keep the viewer’s interest. Come Out Fighting offers clichés and heavy-handed moralizing instead. Which means it’s a tough slog until those “black tankers” under the command of Sergeant Crecy (Tyrese Gibson, The System, Morbius) show up to help with the search.
Unfortunately, neither Gibson nor his tanks really have much to do. Most of the scenes of them in action are the same video game-like footage of a turret moving back and forth or a machine gun firing. There’s also an unintentionally funny scene of a CGI tank racing into battle at what appears to be hyperspeed. For his part, Gibson is barely on screen and several of the scenes of Crecy in the tank are so dark it could easily have been a double. Lundgren gets a bit more screen time but spends it all at the base, mostly behind a desk.
While it’s not as bad as a lot of recent WWII-themed films, Come Out Fighting isn’t a particularly good film either. The poor CGI, clichés and undeveloped characters take their toll and the budget doesn’t allow for the kind of action scenes to distract from these flaws. Undemanding fans of war films may find it acceptable, but most will be disappointed.