“The Pentagon Wars” is an HBO produced comedy based on an adaptation of Lt. Col. James G. Burton’s 1993 book of the same name. The story follows the development of the Bradley fighting vehicle, a troop carrier that was not only produced at great cost (in excess of 13 billion of our tax dollars) but was a totally unsafe deathtrap for the soldiers riding in it.
Kelsey Grammar plays General Partridge, the officer in charge of the Bradley’s development. One refreshing angle of this movie is that you never confused him with his long running character Frasier for a second. As guest columnist Charles (previous reviewer of “Avatar”) says of Grammar’s performance in this movie “he [Grammar] makes the totally indefensible not only seem plausible and but also comical.” Richard Schiff also gives a fine performance as the original career officer trying to maintain his sanity while he watched his straightforward, common sense defense department project spiral out of control over nearly two decades into one of the most publicized and offensive examples of the military industrial complex in recent history.
One of the more theatrical moments in the Pentagon wars is Burton’s idea to use sheep to test what would happen to soldiers if the vehicle was hit by an RPG. Burton’s test is obstructed by the General’s creation of a new (classified) department designated as “Ruminant Procurement,” requiring sheep specifications to be examined i.e. type of sheep, length of coat, gender et cetera and almost another years to actually implement the sheep specs. Meanwhile, the army is forcing the vehicle into production despite its obvious failings.
The problems with the project were so obvious that Israel bought some, but seeing right off the bat that the vehicle as designed was a death trap, required modifications creating two production lines: one for the Israeli version and one for the flawed U.S. version: produced by its own country with the knowing enthusiasm and approval of the military!
There was only one way to play this movie, and that was as a comedy—a comedy that still carried its message. Any other attempt would have been sorely depressing film that few would have wanted to see.
A great rose one you should see when you get the chance.