Cast stronger than vehicle in this visually rich but morally truncated adventure.
Had it been informed by the sensibilities prevailing but a few years after its release, The Hell With Heroes might have become a cult classic: two discarded war heroes, cynical pilot-of-fortune Taylor and his appealingly (and handsomely) ingenuous sidekick Deuel, adventuring in an Africa in its last throes of anti-colonialist turmoil, fall victims to a crook and his moll ... it reeks of existential angst while providing plenty of Cardinale's cleavage (with stuff blowing up in the background). But the film neatly sidesteps the paradoxes it presents -- whose land is this, and who are the real savages here? (Hint: they wear wrist watches and sunburn easily). Deuel's performance has satisfying depth, and his technique, considerable subtlety; despite the role's stereotypical attributes (friendly, uncomplicated kid, worships older, cynical Alpha Male), his is the only character whom we suspect of thoughts and feelings to which we are not explicitly privy. Worth watching if only to ponder how Deuel might further have developed his craft had he not succumbed to depression over the slick commercial path onto which his career was even then being steered. Taylor is reliably fun to watch, Cardinale is real eye-candy, and Guardino and McCarthy deliver as always ... the action and scenery aren't half bad, either. As a plus, it's a decent family film (not pre-schoolers, of course), with a moral spin about what evil does to those who tolerate it and the usual pre-ratings absence of frontal nudity, baroque sexuality, and self-medication with heroin. Good beat, you can dance to it -- I give it an 85.
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