Starring: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch
OUR RATING: ★★★★☆
War drama directed and co-written by Sam Mendes. The story follows two young British soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), at the height of the First World War, who are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers, Blake’s own brother (Richard Madden) among them.
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Our Favorite Quotes:'Down to Gehenna, or up to the Throne, He travels the fastest who travels alone.' - General Erinmore (1917) Click To Tweet 'I hoped today might be a good day. Hope is a dangerous thing.' - Colonel MacKenzie (1917) Click To Tweet 'There is only one way this war ends. Last man standing.' - Colonel MacKenzie (1917) Click To Tweet
[first lines; we see Blake and Schofield sleeping under a tree]
Sergeant Sanders: Blake. Blake!
[Sanders lightly kicks Blake to wake him]
LCpl Blake: Sorry, Sarge.
Sergeant Sanders: Pick a man. Bring your kit.
LCpl Blake: Yes, Sarge.
[Blake holds his hand out to Schofield, who opens his eyes and takes it]
Sergeant Sanders: Don’t dawdle.
LCpl Blake: No, Sarge.
Lance Corporal Blake: [to Schofield] I’m bloody starving, aren’t you? I thought we might get some decent grub out here. It was the only reason I decided against the priesthood.
LCpl Blake: What you got there?
LCpl Schofield: Ham and bread.
LCpl Blake: Where did you find that?
LCpl Schofield: I have my uses. Here.
[he offers some to Blake, who takes a bite]
LCpl Blake: Tastes like old shoe.
LCpl Schofield: Cheer up. This time next week it’ll be chicken dinner.
LCpl Blake: Not me. My leave got cancelled.
LCpl Schofield: They say why?
LCpl Blake: No idea.
LCpl Schofield: It’s easier not to go back at all.
Sergeant Sanders: In your own time, gentlemen.
LCpl Blake: Is there any news, Sarge?
Sergeant Sanders: News of what?
LCpl Blake: The big push. It was supposed to happen weeks ago. They told us we’d be home by Christmas.
Sergeant Sanders: Yes, well, sorry to disrupt your crowded schedule, Blake, but the Brass Hats didn’t fancy it in the snow.
LCpl Blake: More’s the pity, Sarge, I could’ve done with some turkey.
Sergeant Sanders: Well, I’ll make sure to relay your displeasure to command.
Sergeant Sanders: Now listen, Erinmore is inside, so tidy yourselves up. Never know, might be mentions in dispatches for this one, if you don’t bugger it up.
LCpl Blake: [to Schofield] Must be something big if the General’s here.
[after entering Erinmore’s quarters]
General Erinmore: Which one of you is Blake?
LCpl Blake: Sir.
General Erinmore: You have a brother, a Lieutenant in the 2nd Devons?
LCpl Blake: Yes, sir. Joseph Blake, is he…?
General Erinmore: Alive, as far as I know. And with your help I’d like to keep it that way.
General Erinmore: Come round here, gentlemen.
[showing them on the map]
General Erinmore: Three miles deep, field fortifications, defences, artillery, the like of which we’ve never seen before. The 2nd are due to attack the line shortly after dawn tomorrow. They have no idea what they’re in for. And we can’t warn them. As a parting gift, the enemy cut all our telephone lines. Your orders are to get to the 2nd at Croisilles Wood, one mile south east of the town of Ecoust.
[gives Blake the papers containing the orders]
General Erinmore: Deliver this to Colonel MacKenzie. It is a direct order to call off tomorrow morning’s attack. If you don’t, it will be a massacre. We will lose two battalions. Sixteen hundred men, your brother among them. You think you can get there in time?
LCpl Blake: Yes, sir.
General Erinmore: Any questions?
LCpl Blake: No, sir.
General Erinmore: Good.
LCpl Schofield: Sir, is it just us?
General Erinmore: “Down to Gehenna, or up to the Throne, He travels the fastest who travels alone.” Wouldn’t you say, Lieutenant?
Lieutenant Gordon: Yes, sir. I would.
General Erinmore: Good luck.
[after leaving Erinmore’s quarters to start their mission]
LCpl Schofield: Blake, let’s talk about this for a minute.
LCpl Blake: Why?
[Blake heads off through the trenches]
LCpl Schofield: Blake! We just need to think about it.
LCpl Blake: There’s nothing to think about. He’s my big brother.
[as they are walking through the trenches]
LCpl Schofield: We should at least wait until it’s dark.
LCpl Blake: Erinmore said to leave immediately.
LCpl Schofield: Erinmore’s never seen No Man’s Land. We won’t make it ten yards. If we just wait.
LCpl Blake: You heard him. He said the Boche have gone.
LCpl Schofield: Is that why he gave us grenades?
LCpl Schofield: All I’m saying is that we wait.
LCpl Blake: Yes, you would say that, because it’s not your brother, is it?
LCpl Schofield: Look, the last time I was told the Germans were gone, it didn’t end well. You don’t know, Blake. You weren’t there.
LCpl Schofield: Blake, if we’re not clever about this, no one will get to your brother.
LCpl Blake: I will.
[after finding Leslie]
LCpl Blake: Sir? Lieutenant Leslie, sir?
Lieutenant Leslie: What is it?
LCpl Blake: We have a message from General Erinmore.
Lieutenant Leslie: Are you our relief?
LCpl Blake: No, sir.
Lieutenant Leslie: Then, when the f**king hell are they due?
LCpl Blake: We don’t know, sir. But we’ve got orders to cross here.
Lieutenant Leslie: That is the German front line.
LCpl Blake: We know, sir.
Lieutenant Leslie: Settle a bet. What day is it?
LCpl Schofield: Friday.
Lieutenant Leslie: Friday? Well, well, well. None of us was right. This idiot thought it was Tuesday.
[after reading Erinmore’s orders]
Lieutenant Leslie: Are they out of their f**king minds? One slow night, and the brass think the Hun have just gone home.
LCpl Schofield: Do you think they’re wrong, sir?
Lieutenant Leslie: We lost an officer and three men two nights ago. They were shot to bits patching up wire. We dragged two of them back here. Needn’t have bothered.
LCpl Blake: Sir, the General is sure the enemy have withdrawn. There are aerials of the new line…
Lieutenant Leslie: Shut up! We’ve fought and died over every inch of this f**king place, now they suddenly give us miles? It’s a trap. But chin up. There’s a medal in it, for sure. Nothing like a scrap of ribbon to cheer up a widow.
[to Blake and Schofield]
Lieutenant Leslie: If you do get shot, try to make it back to the wire. We won’t come after you, not until it’s dark. And, if by some f**king miracle you do make it, send up a flare.
[as he splashes some liquor over Blake and Schofield in imitation of holy water]
Lieutenant Leslie: “Through this holy unction, may the Lord pardon you your faults, and whatever sins thou hast committed.”
[as he gives them a flare gun]
Lieutenant Leslie: I do hate losing these to the Hun. So, when they start shooting at you, could you be so kind as to throw it back, there’s a good chap. Cheerio.
[as they are about to climb out of the trenches and go through the battlefields]
LCpl Schofield: You sure?
LCpl Blake: Yes.
[Schofield stops Blake]
LCpl Schofield: Age before beauty.
[Schofield goes first]
[as they arrive at an abandoned German trench]
LCpl Blake: Your hand alright?
LCpl Schofield: Put it through an effing German.
LCpl Blake: Patch it up. You’ll be wanking again in no time.
LCpl Schofield: Wrong hand.
[Blake and Schofield are in the underground German barracks and find it crawling with rats]
LCpl Blake: Bloody hell! Even their rats are bigger than ours.
[after the rat triggers tripwires in the German barracks to explode]
LCpl Blake: The whole thing’s coming down.
[to Schofield, who was almost killed after being burried in the rubble]
LCpl Blake: You keep hold of me! We need to keep moving. Come on!
LCpl Schofield: I can’t see. I can’t see!
LCpl Blake: Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop. It’s a mineshaft! We’ll have to jump. Come on!
[Blake jumps first]
LCpl Blake: You’re going to have to jump! Just jump.
LCpl Schofield: I can’t! I can’t see!
LCpl Blake: You need to trust me! Jump!
[Schofield jumps and makes it to Blake]
LCpl Blake: Don’t let go of me! Don’t let go! Light! There’s light!
[they finally make it out of the tunnel barracks]
[after making it out of the exploding tunnel barracks]
LCpl Blake: I wish I’d shot that rat now.
LCpl Schofield: I wish you’d picked some other bloody idiot.
LCpl Blake: What?
LCpl Schofield: Why in God’s name did you have to choose me?
LCpl Blake: Well I didn’t know what I was picking you for.
LCpl Schofield: No, you didn’t. You never know. That’s your problem.
LCpl Blake: Alright then, go back. Nothing’s stopping you. You can go all the way bloody home if you want.
LCpl Blake: I didn’t know what I was picking you for. I thought they were going to send us back up the line, or for food, or something. I thought it was going to be something easy, alright? I never thought it would be this.
[he takes out the flare gun]
LCpl Blake: So do you want to go back?
LCpl Schofield: Just fire the f**king flare.
LCpl Blake: Hey, did you hear that story about Wilko? How he lost his ear?
LCpl Schofield: I’m not in the mood. Keep your eyes on the trees, top of the ridge.
LCpl Blake: I bet he told you it was shrapnel.
LCpl Schofield: What was it then?
LCpl Blake: Well, you know his girl’s a hairdresser, right? And he was moaning about the lack of bathing facilities when he wrote to her. Remember those rancid Jakes at Arras?
LCpl Schofield: Yeah.
LCpl Blake: Anyway, she sends him over this hair oil. Smells sweet, like Golden Syrup. Wilko loves the smell, but he doesn’t want to cart it around in his pack. So, he slathers it all over his barnet, goes to sleep. And in the middle of the night he wakes up, and a rat is sitting on his shoulder licking the oil off of his head. Wilko panics, and he jumps up, and when he does, the rat bites clean through his f**king ear and runs off with it! Oh, he made a hell of a fuss, yelling, screaming. The best of it was, he’d put so much bloody oil on himself that he couldn’t wash it off! He was like a magnet. Rats left us alone, but they couldn’t get enough of him. Poor bastard.
[referring to his medal]
LCpl Schofield: I swapped it with a French captain.
LCpl Blake: You swapped it? For what?
LCpl Schofield: Bottle of wine.
LCpl Blake: What did you do that for?
LCpl Schofield: I was thirsty.
LCpl Blake: What a waste. You should’ve taken it home with you. You should’ve given it to your family. Men have died for that.
LCpl Blake: If I got a medal, I’d take it back home. Why didn’t you just take it home with you?
LCpl Schofield: Look, it’s just a bit of bloody tin. It doesn’t make you special. It doesn’t make any difference to anyone.
LCpl Blake: Yes, it does. And it’s not just a bit of tin. It’s got a ribbon on it.
LCpl Schofield: I hated going home. I hated it. When I knew I couldn’t stay. When I knew I had to leave, and they might never see me.
[referring to the planes in the planes in the sky, one of which is the German one they saw earlier]
LCpl Blake: Is that our friends again?
LCpl Schofield: Looks like it. Dogfight.
LCpl Blake: Who’s winning?
LCpl Schofield: Us, I think. Two on one. They got him.
[they watch the German plane plunge down]
[after Schofield kills the German pilot for stabbing Blake]
LCpl Blake: Let me sit.
LCpl Schofield: No, we can’t. We have to find the 2nd, remember? Your brother. We have to go now.
LCpl Blake: You can start on without me. I’ll catch up.
LCpl Schofield: You can’t stay here. We have to move, alright? We have to move. Come on. Come on! Come on. That’s it. Come on. Come on.
[he tries to pick up Blake, but Blake screams in pain]
LCpl Schofield: Your brother. We have to find your brother.
LCpl Blake: You’ll recognize him. He looks like me, and he’s a bit older.
LCpl Blake: What was it?
Cpl Schofield: You were stabbed.
LCpl Blake: Am I dying?
Cpl Schofield: Yes. Yes. I think you are.
[Schofield comforts Blake as he dies]
LCpl Blake: Will you write to my mum for me?
LCpl Schofield: I will.
LCpl Blake: Tell her I wasn’t scared.
LCpl Schofield: Anything else?
LCpl Blake: I love them.
LCpl Schofield: I’ll find the 2nd. I’ll give them the message. And then I’ll find your brother. Just like you, a little older.
[Blake dies in his arms]
[referring to Blake’s death]
Captain Smith: I’m sorry about your friend. May I tell you something that you probably already know? It doesn’t do to dwell on it.
LCpl Schofield: No, sir.
Private Cooke: [to Schofield] Good luck, guv. Don’t balls it up.
Captain Smith: If you do manage to get to Colonel MacKenzie, make sure there are witnesses.
LCpl Schofield: They are direct orders, sir.
Captain Smith: I know. But some men just want the fight.
LCpl Schofield: Thank you, sir.
[after Schofield stumbles into a cellar, where a French woman is hiding with a baby girl]
LCpl Schofield: What is her name?
Lauri: [in French] I don’ know.
LCpl Schofield: Who is her mother?
Lauri: [in French] I don’ know.
[whilst trying to comformt the French baby girl and Lauri]
LCpl Schofield: “They went to sea in a Sieve, they did. In a Sieve they went to sea. In spite of all their friends could say. On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day. In a Sieve they went to sea. Far and few, far and few, are the lands where the Jumblies live. Their heads are green, and their hands are blue. And they went to sea in a Sieve.”
[after Schofield reaches the 2nd Devons just before the attack begins]
LCpl Schofield: Sir, I have a message from General Erinmore!
Lieutenant Hutton: Who the f**k are you?
LCpl Schofield: The attack has been called off. General Erinmore has called off the attack.
Lieutenant Hutton: Balls, man. We’re about to go over. We’ve got them on the run!
LCpl Schofield: You don’t! Please. Don’t send your men over.
Lieutenant Hutton: Get out of the way, Corporal!
LCpl Schofield: These are direct orders from Army Command! Where is the Colonel MacKenzie?!
Lieutenant Hutton: Jesus Christ, man! Go and see the Captain!
[as Schofield is planning to sprints across the battlefield to get to MacKenzie]
Lieutenant Hutton: You can’t possibly make it that way man, are you bloody insane?
[Schofield climbs up the trenches]
Lieutenant Hutton: What the hell are you doing, Lance Corporal?
[as Schofield starts runnng across the battlefield]
Lieutenant Hutton: No! No! No!
[as Schofield is trying to make his way into meeting MacKenzie]
Orderly Byrne: What the hell do you think you’re doing?
LCpl Schofield: I have to see Colonel MacKenzie!
Orderly Byrne: What are you doing?!
LCpl Schofield: I have to stop this attack!
[after Schofield finally reaches MacKenzie]
LCpl Schofield: Colonel MacKenzie! This attack is not to go ahead! You have been ordered to stop. You have to stop!
Colonel MacKenzie: Who the hell are you?
LCpl Schofield: Lance Corporal Schofield, sir. 8th. I have orders from General Erinmore to call off this attack.
Colonel MacKenzie: You’re too late, Lance Corporal.
LCpl Schofield: Sir, these orders are from Army Command. You have to read them.
Major Hepburn: Shall we hold back the second wave, sir?
Colonel MacKenzie: No, Major. Hesitate now and we lose. Victory is only five yards away.
LCpl Schofield: Sir, please read the letter!
Colonel MacKenzie: I have heard it all before. I’m not going to wait until dusk, or for fog. I’m not calling back my men, only to send them out there again tomorrow. Not when we’ve got the bastards on the run. This is their last stand.
LCpl Schofield: The German’s planned this, sir. They’ve been planning it for months. They want you to attack. Read the letter.
[MacKenzie finally reads the letter]
Colonel MacKenzie: Major.
Major Hepburn: Yes, Sir.
Colonel MacKenzie: Stand them down.
[to Schofield after the attack is called off]
Colonel MacKenzie: I hoped today might be a good day. Hope is a dangerous thing. That’s it for now, then next week, Command will send a different message. Attack at dawn.
Colonel MacKenzie: [to Schofield] There is only one way this war ends. Last man standing.
[after finding Blake’s brother]
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: Well, what the hell are you doing here?
LCpl Schofield: I was sent here to deliver a message.
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: The 8th? You must know my brother.
LCpl Schofield: I was sent here with him.
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: Tom’s here? Where is he?
[pause as Joseph realizes what happened to Blake]
LCpl Schofield: It was very quick. I’m sorry.
[last lines; after Schofield gives Joseph some of Blake’s belongings]
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: What’s your name?
LCpl Schofield: Schofield, sir.
[Joseph is visibly emotional as he holds Blake’s belongings]
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: I’m sorry, what?
LCpl Schofield: It’s Schofield, sir. William Schofield. Will.
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: Well, you need some food. Get yourself to the mess tent.
[Schofield turns to go but stops and turns back]
LCpl Schofield: If I may, I’d like to write to your mother. Tell her that Tom wasn’t alone.
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: Of course.
LCpl Schofield: He was a good man. Always telling funny stories. He saved my life.
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: Well, I am glad you were with him.
[Josepsh shakes his hand]
Lieutenant Joseph Blake: Thank you, Will.
[Schofield finds a tree to sit under, looks at photos of his wife and children, one with the message “Come back to us” written on the back, and then closes his eyes]
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