“Blue for us. Red for them. It’s that simple.”
What’s not so simple is this John Frankenheimer cold war sleeper from 1990. You say you’ve never heard of it? That’s not very surprising. The film couldn’t even break $2 million at the box office and was pulled after just two weeks of release. It’s hard to imagine a film from such a bright director as Frankenheimer and staring the likes of Roy Scheider would tank so badly. Tank it did, and quite frankly, any fans of the movie should be thanking MGM for releasing it now, even in its Limited Edition Collection DVD-R format.
Colonel Jack Knowles (Scheider) is a warrior who doesn’t exactly know what to do with himself during peacetime. He’s become somewhat of an embarrassment and has been sent to command a border patrol in West Germany. From the moment he lays eyes on his rival on the other side of the unfenced boarder, Colonel Valachev (Prochnow) he sees a man much like himself. The two begin a rivalry that starts with snowballs and ends with excursions by both across the border for sabotage and treachery.
The problem with the film is that it’s really quite silly in the end. The personal little war between these two never gets very interesting or provides much action until the final 15 minutes. There’s tit for tat that appears too petty to be worth our time. Frankenheimer alludes to the psychology at play but never fleshes it out on screen. By the time it has ended, it really seems to be much to do about nothing. It ends with one of the most anti-climactic finales you can imagine.
With eternal optimism MGM makes this available in spite of its disappointing success at the box office. “They don’t teach a class on the art of defeat”.