This old-fashioned British war drama feels a bit military surplus: the kind of second world war movie no longer needed by cinemagoers who have upgraded to more sophisticated kit. It’s the fictional story of a band of heroic British soldiers on a mission to rescue an American scientist and his atomic bomb research from the Germans.
It’s mostly well-acted, and director Giles Alderson makes the best of what looks like a limited budget. But I’m on the fence about leading man Ed Westwick: his cheekbones and pout, so useful playing conceited rich boy Chuck Bass in Gossip Girl, don’t exactly scream grizzled war hero.
Westwick plays Jack Wallace, who we first meet in a smooshy sentimental scene at the beginning of the war, telling his young daughter he’ll come back alive. Fast forward six years, and Wallace is assigned one last dangerously suicidal mission before he can keep that promise. He is part of a unit of half a dozen or so soldiers parachuted into Bavaria to snatch Prof Hopper (Rupert Graves).
Hopper is a genius American scientist who has lived in Germany for 25 years and has developed an atomic bomb. He is portrayed as a hostage rather than a Nazi sympathiser. But the thing that’s never explained is why he stayed in Germany so long; surely he would have seen the writing on the wall as Hitler assembled his war machine and scarpered? It’s a question that niggled me for the entire movie.
Wallace and the lads locate the professor, who is being held by a local militia of Nazi true believers who call themselves the Wolf Angels. Their leader (Max Themak) is familiar from other sadistic Nazi psychopaths with piercing blue eyes in earlier movies.
There are a couple of nail-biting who’s-going-to-shoot-who moments, but the film is let down by a few too many cliches – as well as Westwick’s occasionally iffy facial expressions. He is more holiday Ken doll than battle-weary man of war.
• Wolves of War is released on 12 September on digital formats.