Synopsis – The story of Carl Brashear, the first African-American U.S. Navy Diver, and the man who trained him – Men of Honour.
Director – George Tillman Jr.
Released – 2000
For fans of – Rules of Engagement, Training Day, Enemy of the State
Based on a true story, it’s best not to go into Men of Honor expecting an entirely truthful retelling of Carl Brashear’s life as he progresses through the navy to become the first African-American Master Diver. This is very much a Hollywood movie with more than a couple of unrealistic moments included to save time or add some entertaining events to an otherwise uneventful sequence. But the main reason you might find Men of Honour so unbelievable is that you’ll find yourself questioning if anyone could possibly have this kind of courage?.
It’s not that director George Tillman Jr. (“Soul Food”) wasn’t looking for historical accuracy or to do Brashear’s story justice, it’s just without these embellishments, big-name actors wouldn’t have been drawn to the project, the audience would have switched off halfway through the film likely wouldn’t have been made as studios wouldn’t want to risk the money (partly due to the misguided belief that “Black films” don’t make money). So for these reasons, I don’t mind Tillman Jr. taking some liberties with the plot in order to ensure the life of Brashear is brought to the big screen and it’s the life of an extraordinary person.
While not the most original or impressive on a technical level, I can guarantee you won’t regret seeing Men of Honour, an extremely well-done movie centred around two very strong performances from Gooding and De Niro, both of which commit fully to their roles and do the men they portray justice (De Niro representing multiple men that Brashear interacted with during this training and career).