The Film (3/5)
Anti- terrorist expert Robert Dapes (Sean Connery) is hired by a Cuban General (Martin Balsam) to help protect him during the Cuban revolution of 1958, as well as train his troops. Once there Dapes discovers that one of the general’s friends is his old flame Alexandra (Brooke Adams). She is now married to the playboy Juan Pulido (Chris Sarandon), and runs his cigar factory for him. While trying to reconnect with his old flame, Dapes must face the impending attack by the Cuban freedom fighters.
CUBA is a usual romantic thriller, that takes a bit too long to fully connect. At two hours, the movies run time is a little too stuffed with characters without actually focusing on the romance between Dapes and Alexandra. The central plot point of Dapes being hired to train soldiers is dropped early on so Dapes can run around and nearly miss every action beat. This isn’t unacceptable, but it’s disappointing that an ex Major/ anti-terrorist expert, doesn’t seem able to handle any action or plan a better escape plan.
CUBA was directed by Richard Lester who seems sure handed in his direction. Lester is best known for directing the THREE/ FOUR MUSKETEERS movies, making A HARD DAY’S NIGHT with The Beatles, and finishing SUPERMAN 2, when Richard Donner was suddenly replaced. Lester has a good eye for action and the poetic use of Spain as Cuba with glowing images of the sea. But unfortunately it seems like the movie needed one more rewrite or possibly a reedit. The editing in this movie is so uneven. Huge chunks of the movie have bizarre jump cuts between scenes without rhyme or reason.
The movie’s biggest plus is the excellent cast. Sean Connery brings a lot to his flat character and adds energy to the climax. Brooke Adams is simply stunning and is a powerful woman who survives the tragedies of the movie because of her willpower. Hector Elizondo brings a lot of charm to his nothing role as a captain. Chris Sarandon is having a complete blast as the Cuban playboy, and Martin Balsam is always a pleasure, even if his accent changes from scene to scene. The biggest crippling factor in the cast is Jack Weston as an American businessman who wants to buy into the cigar factory. Every scene he is in is unbearable as he just sits there and wastes the movie’s run time with his slob behavior and filler humor. Denholm Elliott (RADIERS OF THE LOST ARK) is also in the movie sleep walking through the movie as an another businessman whose scenes could’ve been cut from the film.
CUBA works in many ways but just comes off as average because of its uneven story and some wasted character bits.
The audio is presented on an English language DTS-HD Master Audio track. There’s no subtitles included. The track is fine until the 45 minute and 82 minute marks, when the tracks suddenly switch to a harsh sounding mono. The volume dropped so quick, I thought my TV was dying. During both times, the issue lasted 4 to 8 minutes. I don’t know if this is a common issue with this title or just my copy. Other than those missteps, the track is fine but a little too quite. The audio suddenly jumps from quite to loud whenever the music plays.
The movie has a 1080p HD transfer. The movie looks marvelous in every respect. Every shot is crystal clear with no print damage or blurred image. The locations are full of detail from the puddles of mud, to shell casings in the streets, and to the lush nightclubs. Truly a quality piece of work.
Extras are limited to trailers for CUBA, THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, JUGGERNAUT, THE OFFENSE, and METEOR.
CUBA is mostly a good movie that is brought down by some uneven performances and odd editing. At least on my disc there was some major issues with the audio track. So hopefully my copy is just a bad egg. But if you’re in the mood for a picturesque romance with plenty of action, CUBA should fit the bill. Recommended.