Miracle at St. Anna | Chicago Reader

Miracle at St. Anna

Rated R 160 minutes

With this adaptation of James McBride's novel, Spike Lee aims for an African-American Saving Private Ryan that will recognize the bravery and sacrifice of the segregated soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division, who helped liberate Italy in World War II. Malcolm X (1992) proved that Lee could rise to the challenge of a sweeping historical epic, but this 160-minute drama is overblown and unconvincing, the director's bright, poppy style clashing with the grim subject matter. Lee is typically heavy-handed in detailing the racist treatment of black soldiers, both at home and in the European theater, but at least in these scenes he's fully engaged; the long stretch set in a Tuscan village behind enemy lines, where the four heroes (Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller) wind up after being separated from their unit, plays like second-hand Rossellini.

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