Age of Heroes is the new WWII film starring Sean Bean and Danny Dyer as Ian Flemings agents of freedom and part of his "30 Commando Assault Unit." Danny Dyer plays the role of Cpl. Bob Raynes who after a prolonged firefight in which most of his unit is decimated is quickly sent off to a UK military boot camp for punishment, and from what I gather, "retraining." He and his unit disobeyed a direct order from a supervising military officer to continue the fight despite heavy casualties and the fact that all of his superiors had been killed in action. Cpl. Raynes made a judgment call and got shipped off to a "prison" of sorts.
Back at HQ reports come in that the Germans have radar technology far superior than what the Allied Forces have and are able to spot troops from upwards of 75 miles out. The good guys have no chance against these radar devices. Their mission is to infiltrate enemy lines by the cloak of stealth in Norway, bring back samples of the technology so that the British can decipher and counter attack the jerries.
Enter Sean Bean as the legendary Major Jack Jones, who as of late has been made an instructor of sorts. He's pretty much "retired," but is ordered to come back and assemble a team that will go in there and get the job done. Jones will be leader of these commandos and they will fight and die to get the job done for country and honor.
Going in blind on Age of Heroes and based off of the unflattering artwork, I hoped for the best and actually got it. Age of Heroes is pretty badass and the closest I can compare it too is Band of Brothers. I will say that the shortness of the film is its only drawback. There is a misprint on the box that states that the film is 108 minutes in length, but when I checked the time on my Blu-ray player it said 98 minutes, so make sure you take that into consideration.
As far as the film itself - it's very cool. I never tire of seeing Sean Bean onscreen in any capacity. One does not simply walk into Norway to retrieve German radar technology it's folly. Wink. Well, that's the mission and these chaps are ready for anything. Considering the short enough running time of the film, I was also surprised that they crammed in several story points that actually enhanced the film. Bob Raynes is initially portrayed as a misfit and someone who plays by his own rules until the Major slaps him around a few times and shows him the value of working as a team.
Major Jones also gets a bit of coverage as the reluctant hero of sorts. His wife wishes that he would stay and not fight, but he has no choice in the matter, so he must fight regardless of what she says. Even he thought his days as the leader of the 30 Commandos were at an end. By the way, there aren't actually 30 Commandos. That would be kind of excessive and a much more expensive film to make. I think its code for something else. Age of Heroes was based of off James Bond creator Ian Fleming's elite assault unit. I think the film does a great job in capturing what the lads went through. It's filled with great emotional depth and characters that we actually care about. All of the actors do a great job in their parts, but in the back of my mind there was a part of me that wished that the film were much longer than 98 minutes. A full-blown miniseries would have secured its position as one of the better WWII stories from the British side ever. As it stands, Age of Heroes is extremely entertaining and Sean Bean and Danny Dyer pull it off nicely.
Age of Heroes is presented in 1080p 2.35:1 widescreen. There are parts where softness creeps up especially during the nighttime and snowy spots, but it was bearable. Colors were accurate with exception to the wounded and dead. They looked wounded and dead, so guess the color saturation on them would be accurate, as well. Black levels rarely crush and I did not detect serious banding issues. There's a healthy layer of grain throughout the film, which really brings out the dirt and grime in certain spots - Age of Heroes on Blu-ray looks terrific.
Age of Heroes is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1. I went with the lossless track and it was a good decision. This being a war film the lossless track went to work as soon as the film began. There was rifle and machine fire whizzing by me along with grenades and bombs dropping all over the place. When things settled down dialogue took over and was clear, crisp, and distinct. None of the destruction ever canceled out what was being said onscreen. The DTS lossless soundtrack gets major props from yours truly. English with English SDH subtitles are provided.
This is somewhat perplexing. For being based off of Ian Fleming's own biography and stories, the pickings are relatively slim in terms of special features. Okay, I'll be fair. Where's the commentary track? I'm selfish, and considering that the Blu-ray contains some pretty good extras all we needed was a nice audio commentary track to seal the deal. Okay, I'm over it. What we do get is pretty good, though, so it's not all bad. There's a 15-minute documentary that chronicles some of what these chaps had to do in the war back in the day. It's pretty intense and ALL real. We also get some candid interviews with the cast and director who have put in lots of work in bringing the story to light for contemporary audiences. We've got about 6-minutes of deleted scenes should have been restored, in my opinion, just to give it a much more epic feel to the final piece. There's some fly-on-the-wall behind the scenes stuff, and my favorite: bloopers. Okay, they're not really my favorite, but English blooper reels are many times funnier than their American counterparts. Believe.
Age of Heroes is one part Band of Brothers and two parts UK sensibilities rolled up into a nice heaping plate of kickassery. Sean Bean is a complete badass, but then again, he's always been a badass and seals the deal here as the Major of a platoon of undesirables and miscreants. He rocks and so does the film. I have a feeling that the crappy cover art on the Blu-ray will deter some of the curious fans out there. I'd suggest ignoring the bad artwork and just get the bloody Blu-ray. It's an awesome film.