As I imagine so many army veterans do, Sgt Jason Kreiger needs to vent - and finds himself seated in a small bar chatting with his bartender. The conversation goes as expected as the drinks are poured - covering Jason's experiences during various postings. Although quiet, the bartender is clearly listening. Eager to hear some wartime stories - or perhaps feeling Jason's need to talk. As the clearly troubled sergeant continues his tales, things get darker and darker. Jason is one of the many, with stories of death and destruction. Can this man behind the counter help with some form of redemption? A soldier in particular, can be called upon to do bad things - but does that make them bad people? This is the burning question Darren Tompkins, who wrote "A Soldier's Judgment" asks of those who view this film. A good question indeed.
This is a good short film. David Black, who directed, manages to capture some truly excellent performances from it's two leading men. Although Joshua Carlin, who plays Jason, gets to truly shine in this role - that's only because it's what the script calls for. Carlin is believable and sympathetic - two characteristics that are crucial for his character. Nailed it.
The bartender Mark, played by Robby Bennett, doesn't get nearly as much dialog but don't be fooled. With his character it's all about actions and reactions. In particular, he's called upon to try and remain neutral with his dialog and expressions. And he does just that - yet there is still a hint of emotion. The slightest suggestion he is trying hard to remain in the middle. It works. Not only that, but it makes Mark's final shot in the film, a very heart-felt one. You'll have to see the movie... to know what I mean.
From a production standpoint, "A Soldier's Judgment" also plays very well. Some excellent cinematography done in an old school way. The goal wasn't to be fancy - it was to compliment the story... and it worked nicely. Also worth noting is the audio, specifically the dialog. Crisp and easy to hear. Just the way it should be. I did feel the background score was overpowering at times, but only slightly.
"A Soldier's Judgment" is a short film, that in my humble opinion, probably should have been a bit shorter. This is a story that takes place in one room, and features two (mainly) actors. I've already stated that the acting itself in this film is excellent - but this same story could have been told in much less time. A cut to the length of even five minutes would have done wonders. Perhaps even six. But what to cut? The performances really are great - so where to start cutting things out - is damn hard to consider. But that's not my job as a viewer. I'm not tasked with that difficult task. All I know is that "A Soldier's Judgment" does begin to lag a little. I also know that probably, a lot of the conversation could have been chopped - even though it was acted out so well. As they say - if it doesn't move the story forward, or has already been said or done in some way, cut it. Had "A Soldier's Judgment" been edited down a little bit more - there's absolutely no reason I can see, that a four star review would be in order.
There you have it. My thoughts on a great short film. I have no doubt many awards will trickle in for this one - why wouldn't they? I may be nit-picking with my thoughts on the length, but overall I have nothing else to complain about. "A Soldier's Judgment" earns it's stars - so to speak. To the cast and crew... excellent job.