When the American Film Institute compiled its list of the “100 most thrilling American movies,” they ranked the unforgettable World War II combat extravaganza “The Dirty Dozen” (1967) as their sixty-fifth entry. This outlandish opus concerned twelve condemned U.S. Army soldiers scheduled to hang for their crimes in England. Headquarters sanctions an unorthodox mission that takes advantage of their status.

They are offered a pardon if they follow orders and survive. This violent blockbuster spawned three made-for-television sequels as well as a short-lived FOX-TV series.  Unfortunately, none recaptured the grit, grime, and glory of the original.  Author E.M. Nathanson, whose 1965 bestseller “The Dirty Dozen” sold more than two million copies, drew inspiration from the legend of the ‘Filthy Thirteen.’

These guys served in the 1st Demolition Section of the Regimental Headquarters Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. They weren’t convicts given one last chance to redeem themselves in combat.  Neither were they rapists, murderers, and/or psychos. The ‘Filthy Thirteen’ were pugnacious G.I.s who drank to excess, started fights with little provocation, and sweated out punishment in the stockade.

Parachuted into France on the eve of the 6th of June 1944, Normandy Invasion, these troublemakers were ordered to destroy the bridges over the Douve River.  Suicidal would best describe the cost of this audacious mission.  Although almost half wound up with toe tags, as casualties, or captured, the “Filthy Thirteen” accomplished their mission.

“Werewolves of the Third Reich” writer & director Andrew Jones pays tribute to these soldiers in “D-Day Assassins” (* OUT OF ****), but his 19th feature amounts to a lackluster, low-budget, travesty of World War II movies.  You know a movie is in trouble when the filmmakers tarry about twenty minutes before they approach the premise.  After an atmospheric montage of World War II news reels edited together for dramatic impact, Jones and his wife Sharron dwell on a dysfunctional family drama about a recent high school graduate, Chris Summerbee (Aaron Jeffcoate of “Five Pillars”), who shows little incentive to jump-start his future.

Predictably, his obnoxious father Richard (Erick Hayden of “Spectre”) struggles to convince his son to enlist in the U.S. Army.  Later, Chris encounters one of the “Filthy Thirteen” when two muggers attack the retiree.  Naturally, this combat savvy veteran, Hawkeye (Ryan Michaels of “Alcatraz”), dispatches them without breaking a sweat.  When Chris asks Hawkeye to regale him with stories about his military exploits, the oldster agrees as long Chris will cut his grass.

Basically, this chronicle of battlefield valor crosscuts contemporary scenes from the 1990s with wartime flashbacks.  Some 23-minutes later, we get our first glimpse of the “Filthy Thirteen” decked out in Native American war paint, sauntering carelessly through an open field with weapons that no American soldier would have ever carried into combat.

Imagine a paratrooper wandering around France with a .30-30 Winchester repeater instead of a .45 caliber Thompson submachine gun!  No sooner has a desperate French couple on the lam approached them than these clowns come under withering fire from a sharpshooting Gestapo sniper perched in a tree.  Clearly, director Andrew Jones has no clue about strategy behind enemy lines, neither the need for constant vigilance nor the need to blend into their surroundings.

Instead, he shows his cast trudging casually through a field without a clue that an enemy marksman is taking aim at them.  Clearly, the actors have no idea what important lessons basic training would have taught them about such a predicament.  A black-uniformed Gestapo sniper picks off seven of the thirteen as if he were shooting fish in a barrel.  Just as the sniper is poised to shoot the wife of the fatally wounded Frenchman, one of the surviving G.I.s puts a bullet between his eyes.

Later, these morons surround a French house. Two stand exposed out in the open, begging to be riddled with bullets, while the others cautiously enter the premises. They persuade a French family to feed them while they question them about Nazi activity.  As it turns out, one lone German officer is hidden under the floor, and a firefight ensues.  During this scene, the surviving “Filthy Thirteen” behave like obnoxious oafs.

The final combat scene of o“D-Day Assassins”occurs in a military hospital.  Several Gestapo officers storm the premises, but they find they’re no match for the three remaining members of the “Filthy Thirteen.”  Our heroes wield their fists and wits against these pistol-packing dastards in brutal hand-to-hand, close-quarters combat.

Chris learns Hawkeye received the Congressional Medal of Honor during his service in France.  Actually, the youth has probably made Hawkeye’s last years more meaningful because not only did he listen to the veteran’s stories, but they also became friends.  Hawkeye assures Chris, “No one ever lay on their death bed wishing they’d spent more time on the battlefield.”  Later, Chris informs his father he won’t enlist because he has fallen in love with a girl.  In a poignant moment, his father Richard confesses that he didn’t enter the army because his wife Karen was pregnant with him.

“D-Day Assassins” never shows anybody getting assassinated.  Director Andrew Jones stretches his million-dollar budget to its breaking point without ever scratching the surface of the history of the “Filthy Thirteen.”  The relationship between Chris and the combat veteran borrows marginally from the Clint Eastwood tragedy “Gran Torino.” Mind you, nothing in “D-Day Assassins” is remotely comparable to “The Dirty Dozen.”

The worst episode of “The Dirty Dozen” FOX-TV series is a hundred times more polished than this flashback-prone potboiler that squanders time on obligatory boilerplate exposition alternating with its few scenes of suspenseful combat.  Jones must have enjoyed Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) since he duplicates his version of domicile scene where a Nazi conceals himself beneath the floorboards.

Meanwhile, World War II armchair generals will feel cheated by this half-baked actioneer that boasts nothing either suspenseful or spectacular about men and arms comparable to “The Dirty Dozen.”  Ultimately, “D-Day Assassins” qualifies as a tedious exercise in fatigue duty. For more great movie reviews just click here:

Planet Weekly is reader supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. We greatly appreciate your continued support.

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.