The Four Feathers appears to have all the makings of the typical Hollywood action film – a young cast, a basic love story and a likable hero.
But somehow even this isn’t enough to save the film.
The apparent lack of a storyline, suspect acting and unrealistic characters leave the film wavering from the very beginning.
When The Four Feathers begins, it’s 1898 with Imperialism in full swing throughout Britain.
Harry Faversham (Heath Ledger) has just proposed to the beautiful Ethne (Kate Hudson) and is in an elite military troop. All’s well with Harry until he learns of his troop’s plan to deploy into the heart of The Sudan.
Suddenly, Harry is forced to evaluate his life, and he realizes that the military isn’t for him – he was simply following his father’s dream.
On the eve of his departure, he resigns.
The noble soldier’s letter of resignation is seen as an act of cowardice and thus he is given four white feathers from his friends, including his best friend, Jack (Wes Bentley). Enraged, Harry decides to go to The Sudan alone to prove that he is not a coward, and to return the feathers.
Harry dropped the military life to avoid war, but he ends up going anyway, and on his own accord.
If this seems pointless, it only gets worse.
From there he meets another far-fetched character in Abou (Djimon Hounsou), a killer who vows his life for Harry after being saved from the desert.
Of course, the outcome of the film is predictable.
The acting seems to be a stretch for most of the cast. Although Ledger is convincing as the confused Harry, Bentley and Hudson play very small roles for actors of their caliber. The Four Feathers is a far cry from American Beauty and Almost Famous, films that made the latter two Hollywood stars.
And though Hounsou is spectacular as the stern warrior, this role is as simplistic as his other two prominent roles in Gladiator and Amistad.
Other good features of The Four Feathers include a couple of scenes that display British humor at its best. It’s just too bad these scenes are few and far between.
Also, the epic battle scenes are amazing in showing the horrible British military procedures of the day as well as the ghastly effects of Imperialism.
The convincing battles seem to be the climax of the film. But they just turn out to be long and overdone.
Sadly, there is no apparent climax. The film just runs on and on without a clear objective.
While fans of the cast may be drawn to see The Four Feathers, they will be disappointed when they realize the cast is the only part worth seeing.
The film shoots for outstanding, but it falls miserably short of even being decent.
And though Ledger is good, it is impossible to get past the fact that his Harry is a completely implausible character.
Contact Meghan McDonough at firstname.lastname@example.org