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During an evacuation in the waning days of the Korean War, three American soldiers retrieve an enemy airman and take him prisoner aboard the civilian ship returning them to their lines. When an order comes down from their superiors to kill the prisoner, the sergeant in charge, Briscoe, orders his men, Dennison and Hackett, to carry out the execution. But first one and then the other refuse to follow the order. A tense stand-off ensues between the seemingly heartless sergeant and his conscience-stricken men. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For fans of the taut and psychologically grueling and philosophically provocative filmed one-act play, The Hook is right in the class of Lifeboat, The Petrified Forest, Obsession, The Desperate Hours, 12 Angry Men, and Time Limit -- all among my personal favorite movies. The movie hinges on one dilemma: What does a military man do when given a direct order from a Commanding Officer to kill an unarmed POW in cold blood? The questions of right and wrong are further blurred by the fact they are informed that all the other soldiers in the unit have all been wiped out by a brutal North Korean attack. Aboard a friendly vessel en route to reconnoiter with another fighting division, a Sergeant (Kirk Douglas), Corporal (Nick Adams), and Private (Robert Walker Jr.) have two days to dispose of the prisoner or disobey a direct order. For his part, the prisoner shows every sign of singlemindedly waiting for an opening to escape. He speaks no English and only one of the three speaks even a few words of Korean. The Sergeant orders each subordinate, in turn, to execute the prisoner, but they are both quite conflicted also.
Kirk Douglas is perfectly cast as the tough-as-nails-on-the-outside-Sergeant Briscoe. But, Nick Adams truly steals the movie as the Corporal who nearly relinquishes his humanity trying desperately to support his Sergeant. Walker gives a solid if unremarkable performance as the Private that Briscoe relentlessly tries to bully into executing his dirty work.
That's all of it. So, if you are looking for a war movie with lots of action and visual effects, look elsewhere. But, if you wish to look into the souls of three enlisted men faced with Hobson's choices within an unrelenting pressure cooker, this fast-moving and well-acted psychological study will haunt you for the rest of your film-going life. I give it 10/10 for its genre.
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