The movie starts off going through a man’s apartment in the early 1980s. It is filled with religious items, as well as war posters and a Purple Heart. He is watching a John Wayne movie about war. After that, he goes to work at a NY post office. He is giving stamps to his customers, when all of a sudden a familiar man walks up to get a stamp. The customer exclaims “You” when all of a sudden the man pulls out a gun and shoots him from behind the counter. As the rest of the customers run out of the building, the man closes his window and walks away, leaving the gun behind.
A young reporter Tim Boyle (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) walks into the scene, meeting with Detective Tony Ricci (John Turturro). Ricci tells him that he missed the press conference by a few hours. He pleads with Ricci, claiming that it is his first day and he got lost in the city. Ricci tells him to go with several other detectives who are going to investigate the man’s (identified as Hector Negron) apartment. They go through the apartment and they see the same things that were seen at the beginning of the film; however, when they go through a closet they find a very heavy Macy’s bag. They take the bag to an antique appraiser, who says that most people just bring in junk thinking it’s special. Once they open the bag, he is shocked to find the item inside. The relic is a statue of a woman’s head; one that was lost in WWII after the statue was blown up. It could catch up to 5 million dollars on the international black market.
The reporter goes to visit Hector (Laz Alonso) in jail, telling him that his interview could be the only thing saving him from 25-to-life in prison. The scene then goes to Italy, where a man and his girlfriend are going at it as he is trying to read the morning paper (the same paper that the reporter printed out). It gets thrown out the window and it lands on the table of an Italian man enjoying some tea. He looks at the paper, drops his tea and begins to run across the road. It goes back to the reporter and Hector, who has not spoken or eaten in the past 2 days, but finally he speaks one sentence: I won’t go back to sleeping man (I’m pretty sure that’s what he said… a little hard to tell.)
After saying that, the movie goes into a flashback of Hector’s time in the war (WWII). The front line infantry is walking across a river as a German woman is talking on the loudspeaker in the background, telling the blacks of the front line to come over and join their side because the Germans will treat them better than the Americans. Hector is walking with Bishop (Michael Ealy), Stamps (Derek Luke), and Train (Omar Benson Miller). Train has the head attached to his bag with a net. The others are trying to tell him that he should not be carrying around the head anymore, but he knows that there is something special about it. All of a sudden gunfire erupts, and most of the infantry is killed on site; however, Train and Bishop make it across the river and call base. Unfortunately, base does not believe that they are telling the truth, so they decide to bomb the other side of the river. Bishop and Train barely make it out alive.
They spot a moving haystack walking into a barn. The audience can see that a young boy is inside the haystack, and goes into the barn to play with his invisible friend Arturo. All of a sudden the barn is bombed and the ceiling caves in on the boy. Train braves it out and looks in the barn. He finds the boy trapped, tries to help him, but can’t. The boy is in a lot of pain, though, so Train rubs the relic head a few times, tries to lift the heavy bar, and moves it off the boy. Suddenly a German solider enters the barn firing at Train. He misses, but Train makes his shot. He exits the building with the boy right before the building is completely blown up. Bishop believes that Train is dead, so he goes off to find others. He runs into Hector and Stamps and tells them that Train is dead.
A little bit later, though, they run into Train as he is walking across a bridge. He has the boy with him, and even though he has given him some chocolate, he is not doing very well at all. He speaks Italian, as does Hector, but he does not talk with them at all.
The scene cuts to a small Italian village. A woman named Renata and her father live in a house with several other people near the mountain of the sleeping man (a mountain range that looks a lot like a sleeping man. They believe that they have angered the sleeping man because of everything that is happening to their little town). The Germans had just left their town, but they still surround the area. Their electricity was turned on because an American missile hits a power line, surging their electricity on. Hector and the rest enter the house in order to find help for the boy. Renata speaks English, so Hector is not the only one who can communicate with her. They help the boy the best they can at the house because they are unable to go to the hospital due to the Germans surrounding the area.
The boy wakes up but will only take food from Train, who has become his caretaker. The boy keeps talking to his friend Arturo, who no one else can see. When Hector tries to work the radio to contact base, it does not work. All of a sudden the boy asks Arturo in Italian if they should help Hector with the radio. Suddenly it turns on, and everyone is shocked and a little bit scared. They contact base, who tells them to find a German and capture him before they come in to rescue them. They all have a little party that night, and Renata and Stamps begin to form a deep relationship, even though Bishop is constantly trying to get with Renata by saying very nasty things to her. She acts like she doesn’t know what he is talking about, but she probably does.
Train and the boy work out a tapping language so they understand each other:
1 = yes, 2 = no, 3 = try, 4 = medicine, 5 = sleep, and 6 = danger. They practice it and understand each other. All of a sudden several Italian men enter the house with a German. (Earlier in the movie the Italians were hiding in the forest to hunt Germans, and it was established that the German they found was a soldier that had run away from his troop for reasons unknown). As soon as the boy sees the men, he frantically starts tapping Train on the shoulder six times (DANGER), but for some reason Train does not seem to notice right away. The German looks a t the boy, grabs him, and tells him to run as fast as he can (like before… not seen in the movie but implied). The Italians and the Americans begin to fight over who gets the German. The Italians want to interrogate him, and say that the Americans can get him after they interrogate him, but they cannot work out an agreement. For now, they will all stay together.
They ask the boy some questions in the other room. They begin to ask him where his mother and father are, when he begins to sob. Train tells Hector to stop, but he needs to ask him one more question: if he knows the German soldier, why is he afraid of him? The boy replies that he wasn’t scared of the German and that the German had told him to run as fast as he could. He was afraid of the one Italian man because he was a bad man. He begins to cry again as Hector and Train wonder what is going on. Renata sends the bad Italian man to check to see if the area is clear for the Americans to escape. He goes to check, and sees that the Germans are surrounding the entire area. He goes back and says that everything is clear, even though it clearly is not. He goes with Stamps and the captured German and they go wait in the clearing.
The other Italian man (scruffy beard… codename is Butterfly because he is in charge of the whole movement to get rid of the Germans) is talking with his mother. He is very upset about something that he has done and he begins to tell his mother about it. He tells her about what had happened at St. Anna. In search of Butterfly, the Germans went to a church and gathered all of the villagers (men, women, and children, young and old), demanding that they tell them where he is; however, no one says anything. The priest tells all of the villagers to get down and pray aloud with him. As they finish, the Germans open fire on every single person. They fire so many rounds that they run out of ammo an d finish off the rest of the people (including the children… very disturbing scene) with the bayonets at the end of their guns. Everyone dies. Butterfly knows that someone had told them to meet them, but he does not know who.
We find out, though, that the man Angelo (the boy’s name) is afraid of set up the Germans to meet at St. Anna. He told them that Butterfly would be there, but he didn’t know that everyone would be killed. Angelo and his brother Arturo were the only two survivors and they are with the German soldier that is captured at the moment (the one that told Angelo to run). They see the Italian mans speaking with the German head, and Arturo breaks free of the man’s grip and begins to run, screaming for his parents. He is shot dead. The good soldier tells Angelo to run away as fast as he can, and both of them begin to run for their lives. Butterfly is clearly distraught and he and his mother cry for the lives lost in St. Anna.
After the story ends, we go back to Hector sitting with the soldier and the bad Italian. The man walks over to the soldier and slits his throat, attempting to kill him and Stamps. As Hector tries to save the soldier, the man escapes. The man says something in German, but he cannot understand him. The man dies and Hector runs back to the village to warn everyone. When he gets back to the village, he sees that Renata and Bishop have had sex, and that deeply upsets him. Bishop and Stamps begin to fight, and Hector breaks them up. Next we see the man meet up with Butterfly in the forest. After they talk for a little while, Butterfly realizes that the man caused the murders at St. Anna. They begin to fight, and Butterfly is killed in the fight.
The base finally enters the village and meets with the soldiers. The head of the troops gets angry when he realizes that the German is dead. He says that they will be reprimanded and he says that they have to leave Angelo here. Train refuses to let the boy go with Renata, who says that they will take good care of him, but he doesn’t want to leave Angelo. One of the soldiers attempts to forcefully take Angelo away. Train grabs him by the throat and strangles him in the air. The man’s face is in perfect sync with the mountain of the sleeping man, and this freaks out the villagers. Train puts down the man and the rest of the army leaves without Hector, Train, Stamps, Bishop, and Angelo. They leave them there in the village because they even though they called to be rescued, they don’t act like it.
As they drive out of the village, their cars are blown up. The Germans are invading the town and kill everyone they see. Many of the villagers are killed right away. Train and Angelo are shot. Train carries Angelo’s lifeless body to the doors of the church. Bishop is killed by a surprise attack around a corner. Stamps leads some of the villagers around a corner where he thinks they are safe, but there are soldiers around the corner that kill them. Renata and her father go down a street, where they run into more soldiers. She calls for Stamps, who tells them to get down so he can shoot the soldiers, but her father walks towards the soldiers proclaiming “We’re fascists!” thinking it will get them out of danger. It doesn’t; they are both shot and killed, as well as Stamps (kills the soldiers but is attacked from behind). Hector sees Train lying in front of the church. He tells Hector to take Angelo out of the line of fire, so he does. He gets Angelo out of the way and grabs the relic head from Train, who dies soon afterward. Many Germans are killed, but Hector is the only one left of the village. He is about to be killed when the head of the soldiers stops the man. He tells the rest of the soldiers to leave, and he pulls out a gun. Instead of shooting Hector, he gives him the gun, and tells him in English to “Defend yourself.” He leaves Hector clinging to the gun and the relic. Suddenly a boy walks up to Angelo, who wakes up. Angelo asks him if they are in heaven, and the boy (his brother Arturo) tells him that he is not. He asks where Train is, and Arturo points to his body, and tells him to never forget Train or any of the events that had happened. Arturo walks him over to Hector. Hector gives Angelo his rosary beads, and he gives them to Angelo to kiss and wear around his neck. They say goodbye and Arturo leads Angelo away; Angelo still holds onto Arturo’s hand as he disappears. Hector is rescued and given the Purple Heart for surviving.
The movie goes back to the picture of the bloody gun in the post office. We now realize that Hector used the gun the German gave him, and he used it to shoot the man that caused the massacre in St. Anna. The man had immigrated to America from Italy and was living in NY.
We go back to Hector in prison, who apparently has not said anything more. He heads to his trial where a court appointed attorney is replaced with an unknown woman attorney. The state wants to put his bail at two million dollars, to which the woman replies, “He will pay cash.” She talks with the judge who questions her methods. She then questions his methods, saying that he will not get reelected next year. He then replies that his bond will be two million dollars.
Next thing you know Hector is on a beach in the Caribbean to meet the man who paid for his bond. He talks with a man in a suit, who tells him that the man who saved him is the inventor of the seat belt, saying that since his life was saved, he wanted to save lives for a living. He points Hector in the direction of the man; as he walks over, he begins to cry. The man is sitting next to the relic head. The man tells him about what had happened during the war, and tells him that Hector saved the life of a young boy. He begins to pull out the same beads Hector gave him years ago, saying that he is Angelo. They hug each other and cry as the movie ends.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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The man murdered by Hector at the start of the movie is a former WWII Italian rebel, Rudolfo. He was a traitor working for the Germans. During the war he led them to a village where the Italian rebel leader Peppi was supposed to be. Not finding Peppi, the Waffen-SS murdered every man, woman and child in the village. The little boy Angelo who the black soldiers found at the beginning of the movie was the only survivor, helped to escape by Brandt, a German soldier sickened by the evils of the war.
The Germans attack the town where the American soldiers are hiding and massacre everyone. Only Hector and Angelo survive, and Rudolfo runs off after murdering Brandt, Peppi and nearly killing Hector. A soldier is about to shoot the wounded Hector but at the last minute a German officer, also sickened by the evils of his own countrymen, orders the town vacated and gives Hector a Luger to defend himself with.
In 1984, where the movie first began, Hector uses that same gun to kill Rudolfo.
Angelo survived the war and became a millionaire inventor. He uses his vast fortune to higher a high-priced attorney and get Bishop acquitted of all charges. The two men have a tearful reunion on a beach in the Bahamas.
Thanks Michael D!
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