Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan

Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan is a 2019 Australian war film about the Battle of Long Tan during the Vietnam War. It is directed by Kriv Stenders and stars Travis Fimmel.

Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan
Theatrical film poster
Directed byKriv Stenders
Screenplay by
Produced by
  • Stuart Beattie
  • Tony H. Noun
  • Silvio Salom
  • Andrew Mann
  • Martin Walsh
  • John Schwarz
  • Michael Schwarz
CinematographyBen Nott
Edited byVeronika Jenet
Music byCaitlin Yeo
Distributed byTransmission Films
Release date
  • August 8, 2019 (2019-08-08) (Australia)
Running time
118 minutes
Budget$24 million AUD[1]
Box office$2 million[2]

Plot edit

The film opens with a mortar attack on the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) base at Nui Dat by the Viet Cong (VC) and People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN). During the attack, Major Harry Smith is cool under fire, ordering his men to take cover and stand to, while other soldiers don't take it seriously, playing cards or drinking beer. The base fends off the attack with counter-battery fire, killing the enemy mortar crew.

Following the attack, Major Smith volunteers his unit, Delta Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6 RAR) to investigate the rubber tree plantation at Long Tân 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) away. Instead, Bravo Company is ordered to locate the mortar firing points and the direction of the enemy withdrawal. Bravo finds no enemy forces.

The next day, Major Smith's Delta Company is sent to relieve Bravo, and thus missing the concert of Australian musicians Little Pattie and Col Joye and the Joy Boys set for that afternoon. Finding fresh tracks leading away from the mortar firing sites, Delta moves to follow the enemy forces. 11 Platoon takes the lead, and makes contact with a small VC patrol. 11 Platoon penetrates further into the plantation, widening the gap with 10 Platoon, and the rest of the company.

11 Platoon quickly comes under heavy attack, and calls down fire from artillery units back at Nui Dat, danger close to its position to hold back the enemy force. 12 Platoon reinforces, but the attack is only getting stronger. 11 Platoon become isolated, in danger of being overrun.

Back at Nui Dat, Brigadier Oliver David Jackson is hesitant to commit reinforcements, and orders Delta to withdraw. Major Smith refuses to leave 11 Platoon behind, eventually forcing Jackson to send APCs to rescue Delta, leaving the base open to attack. Low on ammunition and under a monsoon, Major Smith pleads for a helicopter resupply. The senior RAAF officer at Nui Dat, Group Captain Peter Raw, does not want to risk aircraft with a hot LZ in the monsoon. However, two RAAF Iroquois pilots, Flight Lieutenant Francis Patrick (Frank) Riley and Flight Lieutenant Robert George (Bob) Grandin, volunteer to support D Company, flying in under heavy fire.

Now resupplied, but still outnumbered, Major Smith organizes his forces to successfully hold off the assault, before the relief force of M113 armoured personnel carriers and infantry from Nui Dat finally arrives, and force the PAVN soldiers to withdraw. But Largie is shot in the head while fighting and dies in the spot. In a Final aftermath scene, the soldiers are roll-called and those that were KIA are missing. Major Smith bids one last farewell to departing body of Largie by helicopter

Cast edit

Production edit

Production commenced in 2018 with the script completed in June 2014. Principal photography took place between May and July 2018 at the Village Roadshow Studios in Queensland and locations around Pimpama, Kingaroy and Nerang.[3][4]

Casting edit

On 28 February 2018, Travis Fimmel was announced as the lead actor, playing the role of Major Harry Smith.[3][5] Fimmel described the role as "a big responsibility".[6]

The initial casting call was for 30 principal cast and bit part roles, and 100–200 Australians with combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan as extras.[3][7]

Reception edit

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 71% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 35 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site's critics' consensus reads: "Danger Close is problematic as a history lesson, but still offers viewers an involving look at life in the trenches of a real-life conflict."[8]

The Sydney Morning Herald wrote "Telling these stories so that we can follow the details is rare. Director Kriv Stenders has made the reality of the day accessible and gripping for a non-military audience."[9]

Flicks Australia wrote the film was a "patriotic but problematic" Australian war film turning down the context of the war, that being an intervention by two superpowers that was veiled in imperialistic action and ignored the deeply existential crisis that existed during the conflict.[10] The film presenting a 2019 story of "sprawling and swarming hordes of Asiatic enemies" against a morally certain ANZAC force was deeply problematic, comparing it to the propaganda-like 1968 film The Green Berets that infamously ignored the muddy ideology behind the war.[10]

Writing for The Curb, film critic Travis Johnson noted that "Danger Close’s boots-on-the-ground approach is intentional, and its focus is deliberate though the film itself does not reflect the cultural introspection and skepticism Australians tend to give towards media depictions of war films. Reflecting on the usage of the song "I Was Only 19", the musical choice underlies "an attempt not to fall to blind patriotism" in an "unjust war". Travis Johnson comments juggling historical, dramatic, and political demands with considerable dexterity, and the result is a film whose place in the Australian pantheon is assured.".[11]

Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Harry Windsor described the film as "both familiar and diffuse, with thinly sketched variations on a bronzed theme rather than characters" and presenting the story with "tone-deaf triumphalism", though he noted that "digital effects are kept to a refreshing minimum".[12]

ScreenDaily also commented that the film's "blinkered nature" in presenting a narrow tone of the film in a controversial and unpopular war was a far less welcomed feature.[13]

Accolades edit

Award Category Subject Result Ref
AACTA Awards
Best Cinematography Ben Nott Nominated [14]
Best Original Music Score Caitlin Yeo Nominated
Best Sound Liam Egan Won

References edit

  1. ^ "Ben Nott ACS on Shooting Australian War Picture 'Danger Close'". Australian Cinematographer. 28 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Danger Close". boxofficemojo. 12 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Vikings actor Travis Fimmel starring in Long Tan movie to be filmed in Queensland". ABC News. 28 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Danger Close: Travis Fimmel leads charge in new Vietnam War film". Sydney Morning Herald. 28 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Hollywood Vietnam War movie Danger Close to be filmed in Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says". The Courier-Mail. 28 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Aussie 'Vikings' star Travis Fimmel to play Long Tan veteran in new film". 9 News. 2 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Vietnam War film 'Danger Close' to shoot in Queensland". Inside Film. 28 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  9. ^ "'War film offers glimpse into the real horrors of Long Tan". The Sydney Morning Herald. 7 August 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Danger Close is a patriotic but problematic Australian war film". Flicks. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  11. ^ "'Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan': Review: A Boots On The Ground Aussie War Story". The Curb. 19 June 2019.
  12. ^ "'Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 20 June 2019.
  13. ^ Ward, Sarah. "'Danger Close: The Battle Of Long Tan': Review". Screen. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Winners & Nominees".

External links edit