Set in a universe that’s equal parts World War II and steampunk, “The Wars of Other Men” follows the adventures of a group of soldiers who are sent to kidnap the scientist responsible for developing an insanely deadly weapon known as “the fog”. It’s chemical warfare on an horrifying scale, as the noxious cloud causes anyone who breathes it to die a gory death. However, instead of simply moving in and putting a bullet in this madman’s head, the powers that be want him taken alive. Apparently the “good guys” want to produce their own version of the fog, an angle that would help them win the war. The squadron’s lieutenant (Scott Norman) is understandably confused by this order, though he trudges forward despite his reservations about the mission.
I’m not a big fan of flashbacks, but Zawacki uses them well. In addition to providing some much-needed characterization, they also slowly reveal the dark secrets of this very curious operation. Without spoiling too much of the plot in the process, I’ll say that some shady, underhanded tactics are taking place behind-the-scenes, and our conflicted lieutenant struggles with how to handle the situation. Scott Norman turns in a smart, nuanced performance as the squadron’s leader, a man who takes great pride in caring for his soldiers. This emotional conflict, combined with some nifty action sequences, help make this story endlessly engaging.
Director Mike Zawacki’s short film “The Wars of Other Men” is one seriously impressive endeavor. The entire movie looks a lot more expensive that its modest budget would have you believe, especially when it comes to the many special effects on-display. The filmmakers have certainly made a little go a very long way, and the end result is nothing short of fantastic. My only real problem with the feature is one that Zawacki and company have no control over at the moment: It’s too damned short. The movie leaves you wanting more, which, I suppose, is a good thing. It’s a great introduction to an interesting story, so hopefully this isn’t the last battle we’ll see in this highly entertaining cinematic war. Honestly, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.
Mike Zawacki (director) / Mike Zawacki, Nancy Nall Derringer (screenplay)
CAST: Tommy Beardmore … Private Kilpatrick
Pauline Ann Johnson … Lt.Col Farben
Jonathan West … Captain Dougherty
Scott Norman … The Lieutenant
Jonny Victor … Corporal McCrae
Mitchell Koory … Private Eiger