Directed by Steven Spielberg
James Murphy=Christopher Plummer
Sgt. Andrew Murphy=Guy Pearce
April Murphy=Sandra Bullock
Mrs. Bryant=Octavia Spencer
The woman=Berenice Bejo
General Antoine Giraud=Ben Kingsley
It’s 1942. Hitler’s grip stretches from Finland to Morocco. The allied powers have fled the European mainland. War is everywhere. Allied forces are secretly planning a point for reentry into the continent. As the major leaders turn their attention to Nazi and Vichy France controlled Northern Africa, James Murphy is called into the discussions. As a consul to Algiers, James is important to the discussions as Algiers is discussed as a possible invasion point. At the age of 71, James has not been doing any important fieldwork in years, but the mission military leaders offer him is too important to refuse. He is to go back to Algiers in order to plant the seeds for a coup against the Vichy French.
At 42, Sgt. Andrew Murphy is one of the older members of his unit. He is with the 9thInfantry of the American army. He has not talked to his father in ages. He has no idea where he is. But with the threat of some real action, things have changed. He decides its time to reconnect with his father. He sends his wife one last letter. In it is a request for her to find James Murphy.
The seeds are planted. A coup is inevitable. James Murphy has returned to Ally Headquarters and has deemed his mission a success. As a reward, all he asks is that the 9th Infantry be the ones to be sent into secure Algiers. He says some one of importance fights among them.
It’s November 7th. Darkness has fallen and the 9th Infantry begins to mobilize. They are to head to Algiers. Set. Andrew Murphy begins to board his ship when he is called for an emergency briefing. His commanding officer tells him a coup to take over the Vichy French controlled Moroccan city, Safi, has failed. Safi is one of the other prongs in the invasion of Northern Africa, and the Vichy French maybe peaceful with American forces. The 9thInfantry is to head to Safi instead.
There is a knock on James Murphy’s door. A woman who appears to be in her 30s or 40s walks in. She introduces herself as April Murphy and says she is his daughter-in-law. They continue to talk about past experiences they have had with Andrew and agree that a gathering is in order. That is why he sent Andrew to Algiers, he tells her. There is another knock on the door. In comes an American military official. He tells him that the 9th Infantry had to be sent to Safi. They will be headed straight into the heat of battle.
It’s the morning of November 8. The invasion begins. Sgt. Andrew Murphy is in the second invasion boat. They had to the beach without covering fire from the warships behind them. It is unknown if the French will even attack. The first boat reaches the shore without any trouble. Soldiers begin to walk onto the beach when suddenly the entire beach erupts into gunfire. The captain of Andrew’s boat freaks out and the boat suddenly swerves away from the landing point. Andrew goes into the control room in order to get control of the ship. He is able to get the captain to calm down when a soldier comes into the room and says a sniper is firing on the ship. Andrew goes back to the deck where they are in fact being fired upon by snipers from the woods which has now replaced the beach. They are way off course. Andrew orders the men to return fire. This is successful for a while. That is until a grenade is thrown onto the ship. The ship is destroyed.
James Murphy is having trouble keeping April calm. He says it will all be fine and that Andrew probably won’t even see action. He knows that’s not true though. He leaves the room and tries to find one of his superiors. He finds one and asks the man to let him go back into the field. He tells him the fight can’t be won without the elimination of General Antoine Giraud, a famed military man for the Vichy French and a skilled sniper, and that he knows how to find him. The man denies his request.
Andrew Murphy makes it to the small strip of sand that separates the sea from the forest. He is dizzy but still looks for survivors. There are none. He has no idea where he is but he keeps moving nonetheless. Eventually he makes it to a clearing. The only thing there is a destroyed building, but he hears a noise. It sounds like a woman crying. He cautiously follows the noise until he finds the woman. The woman asks who he is and he responds. The woman tells him that she can be called Mrs. Bryant. Mrs. Bryant offers him the chance to stay in her broken down house for the night. He agrees and spends the rest of the night listening to her life story. Mrs. Bryant was originally from Alabama. She moved here to find some of her relatives that used to live here after husband was beaten to death by white supremacists. She didn’t find what she was looking for in Safi and she has come to the realization that people of her color never get to fight for what they believer in. If they did, her husband would still be alive. Andrew goes to sleep for the night. Early that morning he is abruptly awaken by a loud noise. He looks up to see a fireball crash into the nearby field. Andrew and Mrs. Bryant run up to it to see what it was that fell from the sky. It is a downed American aircraft. The pilot is an African-American. He isn’t moving. Andrew realizes what a sad event this is yet there is a sense of hope too.
James Murphy is still consoling April when his superior walks in. He says that he had someone look into his request on General Giraud. Intelligence believes he is somewhere in the woods surrounding Safi. The 9thInfantry is in the middle of Safi and away from any confrontation with Giraud. The problem is Andrew is missing. A sense of dread consumes James. He charges out of the room and tries to find someone who will take him to Safi. Suddenly, he begins to feel a pain in his chest. He collapses to the floor and passes out.
With directions from Mrs. Bryant, Sgt. Andrew Murphy is one walk through the woods away from reuniting with the 9th Infantry. A mile or two in, Andrew here’s something. He stops for a second when a pain suddenly hits his leg. He falls to the ground. There he sees men moving in on him. The men who reaches him first has a patch on his chest. With some knowledge of the French language, Andrew is able to see that it says General Giraud. The general tells a man next to him to tie him up and keep him with the woman. They are heading to a Vichy French stronghold. Andrew passes out from the pain. When he wakes up again, he finds himself passed out in a stretcher and being pulled by a French woman. He asks for help but all he gets in return is her story. She was the wife of a soldier for General Giraud. He wanted to bring her along with him. Giraud refused and when he did it anyway, Giraud murdered him. As a cruel joke, Giraud brought the woman along anyway to do all of the work none of his soldiers wanted to do. Andrew tries to press her in realizing that Giraud does not control her. Eventually this causes something to go off in her mind. She drops Andrew under some brush and walks up to General Giraud, pulls his gun, and shoots him. The rest of the soldiers surround the woman and Andrew sees nothing but hears many guns going off.
Andrew begins to slowly drag himself the rest of the way to Safi. When he finally makes it he is given a hero’s welcome. That is until his General gives him some bad news. His father is dying. Andrew is shipped back to American Headquarters where he finally, after many years, reunites with his father. James is now comatose and will never recover. Andrew tearfully says goodbye as he is filled with regret over not reuniting with him earlier. Andrew stays by his side until he passes. April tries to cheer him up but nothing will. That is until April revealed the stories that James shared with her about the experiences he remembered having with Andrew. In this way, Andrew is able to spend more time with his father.