LIam Hemsworth and Teresa Palmer shine in too-familiar Vietnam War-era love story
It is extraordinary how smoothly the Aussies do American accents.
Liam Hemsworth (“The Hunger Games”) and Teresa Palmer (“Warm Bodies”), two of the young actors holding down leading roles in this banal drama about love and friendship during the Vietnam War era, never once vocally betray their Antipodean origins.
That a viewer is paying more attention to the accent in which they say their words than the words themselves is indicative of the wan appeal of “Love and Honor.” Just as the war it depicts was known as the “living room war” because it was the first major conflict that most Americans watched unfold on their TV sets during the evening news, so this lightweight film will play better, and seems more suited, to the small screen at home than the large one at the multiplex.
Dalton (Austin Stowell, of TV’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”) and Mickey (Hemsworth) are soldiers and buddies serving in the same squad in Vietnam in 1969. Dalton is the earnest responsible one while Mickey is the charming braggart. The two go AWOL while on R&R and head to Ann Arbor, Mich., so that Dalton can try to patch things up with girlfriend Jane (Aimee Teegarden, of TV’s “Friday Night Lights”), a college student, who has sent him a Dear John letter.
At the house where Jane lives with several roommates, the two soldiers — Dalton volunteered for the Army while Mickey was drafted — find themselves in the middle of a hive anti-war activity. One of Jane’s housemates is Candace (Palmer), a fetching student journalist and peacenik whom Mickey immediately sets out to charm.
Will Candace discover that Mickey isn’t the idealistic deserter who claims to be? Will Dalton woo Jane back from her scruffy, bearded new boyfriend (Wyatt Russell, son of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell)? Will Dalton and Mickey return to their army unit before their absence is discovered or will they bolt for real?
The answers to these plot questions are worked out in a predictable, earnest fashion as lies are told, truths are uncovered and bonds are tested. None of it proves very surprising or even moving as the movie pounds away at its themes of love, commitment and loyalty. (Well, you might be a little caught up or moved if you’re the same age as the main players here or younger and haven’t already watched a dozen or more similar films about a solider and his girl.)
First-time feature director Danny Mooney, working from a script by Jim Burnstein (“Renaissance Man”) and Garrett K. Schiff (“Ruffian,” a TV movie), gets competent performances from his young cast, with Hemsworth and Palmer definitely showing the greatest star quality.
The movie, which has been available on VOD and digital platforms since last month, opens in theater in New York and Los Angeles on Friday (March 22) and in additional cities in coming weeks.