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Pentagon Wars, The


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Product Details

  • Actors: Kelsey Grammer, Olympia Dukakis, Richard Benjamin Cary Elwes
  • Directors: Richard Benjamin
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: HBO
  • DVD Release Date: April 16, 2013
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00CDV4PNC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,210 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

From the director of ' 'Made In America' ' and ' 'The Money Pit' ' comes a hilarious look at one of the most expensive blunders in military history. Over 17 years and almost as many billion dollars have gone into devising the B.F.V. There's only one problem. . . it doesn't work.

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Customer Reviews

I think that this film is a really good movie.
Eric Finkelstein
The conflict in this film is between a conscientious officer who wants to do real testing and a pentagon general who wants to make contractors and politicians happy.
John A Lee III
This is a very funny movie with an excellent cast.
Jeffrey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Roy Gordon on February 9, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This movie was a real surprise. I rented it on vacation when neither my son, my wife, nor myself could agree. I just saw that Olympia Dukakis and Richard Benjamin were in it and he directed. And, it was a comedy.
But this film is the blackest of comedies. And the very scenes that were the most hilarious were also those that engendered outrage in me, gradually at first, and then with a rushing forward.
It is the true story of the latter stages of development of the Bradley armoured vehicle which was featured in the Gulf War, and the Air Force officer, James Burton, whose task, by Congressional edict, was to sign off on the final testing of the vehicle. Without his approval the Bradley could not go into production.
The film is based on his book.
What he discovered was that the Bradley's design had evolved from a fast troop transport to a mish-mash of everything, making it unsuitable for each of its now numerous and contradictory roles.
Worse, however, was that the vehicle was an obvious death trap. If the paper-thin armour didn't get you, then the poisonous fumes would. And if they didn't do it, then the exploding of the vehicle's gas tank would finish off the job.
The army would not test the vehicle, except for those that they rigged--knowing full well what the results would be. Israel bought some, but seeing right off the bat that the vehicle as designed was a death trap, insisted on modifications.
So, there were two production lines: one for the Israeli version and one for the death trap US version: produced by its own country with the knowing enthusiasm and approval of military brass.
Contractor production of sub-standard military equipment is a very old story. Nothing new here.
Read more ›
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By John A Lee III on June 13, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This film would be hilarious were it not so frightening.

This film is not portrayed as a documentary Still, it purports to reflect in a semi-accurate manner the convulsions that attended the development of the Bradley fighting vehicle. Based on news reports, it contains more than a bit of truth, even if there is some dramatic license being employed.

The conflict in this film is between a conscientious officer who wants to do real testing and a pentagon general who wants to make contractors and politicians happy. It is a sad state of affairs.

The development of the Bradley had a long history before it ever reached deployment. It was plagued by cost overruns, changing specifications and failed tests. It even went through a phase where it was supposed to be aquatic. In the end, a troop carrier for 11 troops became a scout vehicle that was too prominent to do scout work, had a turret like a tank so it would attract extra fire, had aluminum armor so it would not be too heavy (or stop shells) and would only carry 6 people. The reasons for all of these travesties can be found in pork barrel politics.

This is a comedy and it is funny in its irony. That does not stop it from also being a tragedy.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
It is well-known that when it comes to procurement, the Department of Defense does not usually put a priority on such incidentals as whether the item actually works. DOD history is cluttered with such gold-plated duds as the Sergeant York gun and the infamous $7600 coffeemaker. "The Pentagon Wars," a made-for-cable film originally aired on HBO, is a devastatingly satirical -- and true -- look at one such boondoggle, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
Col. James Burton (Cary Elwes) is a by-the-books Air Force officer who is given the job of making sure the Bradley is effective and ready for use. He quickly learns that the vehicle is a Frankenstein's monster, designed by committee and unable to do any of the tasks it was meant for, but which is being built anyway. In his attempts to adequately test the vehicle, Burton is up against Gen. Partridge (Kelsey Grammer), who is determined to get the Bradley into production no matter what. After all, it has been 17 years in design, with $14 billion already spent on it. Who cares whether it works or not? Burton does, actually, and is equally determined to make sure the Bradley actually works before he signs off on it, an attitude which does not earn him plaudits from Partridge. Running interference are Col. Bock and Maj. Sayers (John C. McGinley and Tom Wright), who sabotage every one of Burton's tests with darkly hilarious results.
(The buy-it-now-and-test-it-later culture is, unfortunately, alive and well in the Pentagon even today. No better illustration exists than the $50 billion -- pre-cost overruns -- National Missile Defense, now in production despite failing most tests and passing a few only under grossly rigged test conditions.)
"The Pentagon Wars" is a darkly gleeful look at the government weapons procurement culture. Pick it up if you get a chance.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Unfortunately, too many of the stories of the U.S. military purchasing $500 hammers and $2,000 coffee makers are true. The bigger the weapons system, the easier it is for "chrome plating" the design to enter into the system. Neither the military nor the defense contractors benefit from streamlining the weapons development process. The more, the merrier. Trapped in this system are literally thousands of dedicated, well meaning, capable people. "The Pentagon Wars" tells the story of an earnest, dedicated career Air Force LT. Colonel who is given the dead-end assignment of certifying the white-elephant Bradley Fighting Vehicle. His best efforts are frequently thwarted by the project officers and defense contractors, but there are always courageous people who are willing to stand up with the truth. This light-hearted comedy will make you laugh and be proud of our brave military people who fight these internal wars against enemies in front and behind. I saw this recently on an in-flight movie coming back from Europe. The entire business class section sat rivited, laughing and booing at the same time. I can't remember the last time that I saw an audience so rivited by an in-flight movie. You will not be disappointed by "The Pentagon Wars."
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