4: Pretty Good


Interesting gimmick, but just another war movie


Release Date: 10 January 2020 (USA)
Studio: Universal
Official Site:
Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Rating: R
Running Time: 1h 59min
Starring: Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Daniel Mays
Genre: War Drama
Base Score: 3.5 (meh)


I’m not a huge fan of war movies. That’s my dad. War just seems like a horrible waste to me. The more realistic it is, the more it’s just… sad. Yeah, WW1 was horrible. Yes, those men sacrificed a lot. I’m not saying that. I’m saying that the world would be a better place if those men were still in it.

That’s all I’m saying.

I was going to pass on this movie altogether until I saw the gimmick. This entire movie was shot using one take. I know enough about filmmaking to know that this would be a huge undertaking. I had to see them pull it off.

And… they pulled it off. I saw a couple points in the movie where they could have made some creative cuts, but if they said it was all one take, I believe them. Somebody wise said, “Never Google an interesting fact.”

It was a technical achievement, for sure. My favorite was when one character is mortally wounded off-screen. As he dies, his face is visibly pale. In order to pull that off, makeup artists would have had to rush in while the camera was panned away. Really good job, filmmakers!

But then, about halfway through, you forgot about the amazing feat they were pulling off. The gimmick faded away and it was just a gritty, realistic war movie. I don’t much care for gritty, realistic war movies. I don’t care how good your giggles are.

I was interested, but it was still very, very sad. War is pointless.


Is it worth 3D, IMAX, or any other special viewing? If I were filthy rich or a fan of war movies, I might spring for a special screen. It would magnify the intensity of the one-shot gimmick. How did they do that?

Would I see it again? I might see it if somebody else wanted to. I would be focusing on the technical aspect of the filming. I wouldn’t see it again because I wanted to see another war movie.

Should I rent it? Buy it? See it once on the big screen. If you are a big fan of war movies (here’s one for you, Dad), I would buy a copy. That way you can show it to other war-fans and marvel at the technical achievement.

Is it family safe? Besides being realistic war violence, the movie is pretty tame. If you are OK letting your kids see war, you will be OK here. There is some adult language (they’re soldiers), but it’s not “rapper heavy.” I wouldn’t exactly call it “family safe” but it’s not “family unsafe.” Can we call it a “family meh?”

Did it have “the look?” (+.5) Super technical achievement. I hope it wins all the awards.

Did it have “the feels?” It was just sad. War is sad. Somewhere a panda is crying.

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