Reveille Review



  • Reveille is a highly authentic war film, with exceptional attention to detail, making it one of the most immersive World War II experiences in recent film history.
  • The narrative of Reveille is driven by its characters, who undergo compelling and morally ambiguous development throughout the film, deepening the emotional resonance.
  • While some of the performances from American soldiers in Reveille are underwhelming and amateurish, the film still stands as one of the best war films of the year, with flawless performances from German and Polish actors.

There are countless war films out there for audiences to sink their teeth into, and the genre seems to be bigger than ever, thanks to the 2019 epic 1917, the 2022 Oscar-winning masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front, this year’s action-packed Sisu, and many more.

Evidently, there is no shortage of impactful, harrowing, and epic war pieces. Now, director Michael Akkerman makes his feature film directorial debut with Reveille, the latest war film to add to the mix. Reveille had a spectacular festival run, taking home 44 awards internationally. It’s safe to say that Michael Akkerman came out the gate with a fantastic feature film debut.

Reveille, is a deeply authentic, highly immersive, and incredibly engaging war flick. Akkerman’s writing is exceptional. He allows his characters to lead the course of the story, as opposed to letting the narrative lead the characters, making for an unpredictable and highly intriguing movie. Likewise, Akkerman’s attention to detail in his World War II outing is sublime. The work from the costume department, makeup team, set designers, and location scouts all make for one of the most immersive and authentic World War II experiences in cinematic history.

One of the movie’s major downfalls, however, is the performances. The German and Polish actors were flawless and gave some truly compelling performances. However, some of the work from the American soldiers was incredibly underwhelming and amateurish. Harsh, we know, but some of the acting genuinely takes viewers out of the experience, which is a shame because otherwise, Reveille is a great film.

Related: Best World War II Movies Ever Made, Ranked

An Immersive War Movie

Written and directed by Michael Akkerman, Reveille follows a group of German soldiers who, after a brutal skirmish with some American soldiers, become badly wounded and taken to a cave until an intense bombing run ends. Inside this cavernous sanctuary, the harsh realities of war converge, as American, German, and Polish soldiers are confronted with unimaginable choices in the face of war’s unrelenting brutality.

Immediately we are thrown into the godforsaken period of World War II — there is no sign of life other than soldiers, the remnants of war are front and center, and the sound of gunshots, screams, and explosions pour from the film, making audiences feel immersed and engrossed in the hellish experience. From there, the film’s visceral elements only heighten, as we meet our soldiers and their fates become sealed. Our characters are wounded, and without the help from a medic, are left to slowly die. The Americans eventually try to help the German soldiers, but there is nothing much they can really do.

Reveille really delves into the harsh realities of war. Many of the soldiers’ morality have been ripped from them, something that can very easily happen when faced with war, and death. Many of the characters don’t value human life, specifically the life of their enemies, and treat their prisoners, German or American, like animals. Spitting at them, smacking them, and forcing them to do what they are told.

Characters Drive Reveille

Reveille - Characters
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At the end of the day, there isn’t much of a story to Reveille. Instead, the narrative is driven by the movie’s band of characters. We instantly become connected with them, and as the film progresses our connection and relationship only grows and grows, deepening our emotional response to them, ramping up the stakes and the emotional resonance.

Most of the movie’s characters start Reveille with no regard to life, shooting and killing any opposing soldier that gets in their way. However, after the characters spend a whole chunk of the movie trapped in a cave with the opposing soldiers, their morality is questioned and changed. It’s a satisfying, ethically ambiguous showcase of character development by Michael Akkerman.

An Authentic World War II Experience

Reveille - Authentic War
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Reveille is and will be one of the most authentic World War II experiences you will lay your eyes upon this decade. Its simple and bleak production design immerses audiences into the setting. The headgear for each side is beautifully accurate, among many other aspects of their costume design. Akkerman and his team of creatives really want to shroud audiences in a genuine World War II experience, and it really shows.

But without a doubt the most compellingly authentic aspect to Reveille is how each side speaks in their native language. The German soldiers speak German, American soldiers, English, and Polish, well, Polish. It’s such an irritating cop out when movies have those from international countries speak English (usually in a British accent) to others from said country, like a Russian speaking English to another Russian. That would just never happen. Thankfully, Reveille doesn’t do this, enhancing our experience and gaining a ton of extra points for doing so. Real war film fans won’t mind that there are different languages in the film.

Related: 16 Most Historically Accurate War Movies

Some Flawless Performances, Some Very Flawed

Reveille movie cast
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For the most part, the cast of Reveille is fantastic. The likes of Kevin Sinic (Jens Artur) and Vick Medina (Klaus Mueller) are among the best in the movie. Sergeant Jens Artur is a stoic, antagonizing, hard as nails soldier who, as the movie progresses, grows a soft spot for his younger, naive troops who irritated him so much at the start of the film. Kevin Sinic brilliantly infuses his character with all the focused grit needed and more. Even when wounded and on the edge of death, Artur wasn’t shy to mock and antagonize his American captures.

Likewise, Vick Medina delivers a wholly captivating performance as one of the younger soldiers, Klaus Mueller, who seems straight out of All Quiet on the Western Front in the best way. Klaus goes through a lot. He lost his friends, and is for the majority of the movie recovering from a bullet wound that is slowly killing him too. Here, Klaus learns the horrors of war, shaping him into a harder and more experienced soldier.

Sadly, as otherwise flawless as Reveille is, some of the performances really hold the movie back. Many of those playing American soldiers felt irritatingly generic, both as characters and as performances. Some of the dialogue was strange and unoriginal, but we could have looked past that if the performances were better. However, they were not. Feeling like a high school play, some of the actors never gave their character any dimension due to their wooden performances, which will indeed take audiences out of the otherwise immersive war drama. If you can ignore that, though, you’ll experience one of the best war films of the year.

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