Merrill’s Marauders The fact that the film has no discernable introduction is entirely in keeping with Sam Fuller’s B Movie style direction. It jumps straight into the action, with Merrill’s army platoon stationed somewhere in the middle of the Burmese jungle. While it was quite hard to suddenly have to familiarise oneself with about 20 different characters, and determine the complicated relationships between them, it allowed for an epic war movie to be refreshingly condensed to a bite-sized 95 minutes.
Merrill, his respected lieutenant, Stockton, and the rest of the boys spend the majority of the film in a sweat-drenched feverish confusion, which is so convincing, that you wonder what the director had to do to in order to produce such a performance from his actors. I have never seen so much agony and despair on the screen, as Merrill’s men struggle through the seemingly endless swamps and mountains. Fuller adds to the attention by way of silent close-ups and good use of the location which suggests that anything might be around the corner, and it usually is.
The film truly shows the horrors of war and the effects on the minds of the people who fought it. If there is a fault, it comes in the form of a patriotic voice-over commentary which bookends the film at the start and the finish. Otherwise, this makes for thrillingly uncomfortable yet exhilarating viewing.