[Today’s post is made possible by JTF Awesome Team Member Grey Ghost Gear]
Range 15: the Dumbest Movie You’ll Ever Love
Range 15 was coming, but only if enough tickets were preordered. I ordered two, for me and my wife. I figured I’d love it, my wife would hate it. I was making her go anyway.
Then a French Foreign Legionnaire I served on the same firebase with but didn’t meet in person contacted me. We’d become internet bros, and he wanted to support the cause. He bought ten tickets to distribute as I saw fit. The group wound up being me, my wife, a two-time Iraq vet National Guard captain and his wife, a two-time Iraq vet radio journalist, a former Afghan translator about to join the US Army and his girlfriend, a combat vet/terrorist attack survivor, a retired warrant officer, a fellow intel weenie who just returned from the Balkans, and his soldier buddy I didn’t know.
Between us we had like twenty deployments. And being Joes, we liked sick, childish humor. The wives and girlfriends, being unfortunate enough to get stuck with us, could at least tolerate what we found funny. So we were just the right audience.
Then the movie started. And guess what happened first?
I’m not going to tell you. See it yourself, you cheap bastards.
I will say this: Range 15 isn’t perfect. Some dialogue is hard to understand. Some scenes could have been clearer. Surprisingly, the professional actors (other than Keith David) felt a little lackluster. The plot was standard zombie fare, and Mat Best even says so in the movie. The jokes were right around middle school level, far beneath a mature, self-educated, retired First Sergeant with a long police career and three novels under his belt. The jokes were nowhere near my college-educated wife’s standards. Most of the movie was flat-out stupid.
Of course, we laughed our fucking asses off.
Range 15 starts funny, gets funnier, makes fun of sacred cows, goes places no other movie ever dared go, gets even funnier, embarrasses you, makes you incredulously ask “how do they come up with this stuff?”, and eventually gets the audience into a laughing frenzy with the credits. Civilians like my wife laughed at the overt jokes, veterans caught a lot more, and War on Terror vets got even more than that. And most importantly, vets aren’t portrayed as untouchable heroes jacked up on PTSD and suicide. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and don’t expect the audience to either.
The not-serious-but-hilarious details were amazing. The main antagonist isn’t a zombie, but instead is an amazingly capable and aggravating Sergeant Major. During one of the SGM’s annoying, self-aggrandizing monologues, he changed a word – it was “magnificent”, I think – by adding one letter. “Magnificent” became “Smagnificent”, a reference to rank so subtle that I had to wonder if anyone else in the theater caught it. The frequent slights against officers, social justice warriors and lesser services like the Air Force were sometimes obvious, sometimes visible only to those in the know. And they were all funny as hell.
But the movie wasn’t even the best part. The “making of” documentary after the credits was, in a way, more powerful. The legless veteran made up as a zombie saying, “It’s like, I kinda chose to do this,” referring to his decision to crawl on the ground for the movie, or his decision to serve, or both, was far more inspiring than empty “we must respect our vets” platitudes. Watching Mary Dague make fun of her own crippling combat injuries (and go way, waaaay further than that) offers us something a million times more valuable than the self-defeating “dysfunctional veteran” movement.
When you see it – and you better, if only to support a bunch of go-getter vets destroying the “all veterans are messed up” lie – watch out for a few things:
The purple-haired zombie girl.
All the real heroes.
The porn star.
The Tom Petty reference.
The insult toward the yard signs I hate with a fucking passion.
And after you see it, let us know what you think.
Breach-Bang & CLEAR!
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.
Chris Hernandez Mad Duo Chris (seen here on patrol in Afghanistan) may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LITE writin’ team here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles – the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley, Proof of Our Resolve and Safe From the War. When he isn’t groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog. You can find his author page here on Tactical 16.
More about Grey Ghost Gear: This Pacific Northwest Powerhouse has been putting out badass gear from the word ‘Go’. Most companies would be more than satisfied with that–but no, they didn’t stop there. They launched a lethal armament branch and named it Grey Ghost Precision. Some of the finest examples of both 5.56 and 7.62N ARs can be found there, and they’re even bringing some new stuff into the mix (read more about our SHOT Shot adventures with them here). You can find Grey Ghost online here and on Facebook here. You can follow them on Instagram (@greyghostgear). And if you prefer Twitter, you can locate them here.