Cinema: Desert Rot

The pace is familiar. Play Dirty plods across the screen like a camel in a sandstorm. In that desert in 1942, a smartinet officer (Michael Caine) is assigned to blow up an oil depot of Rommel's desert rats. But the officer has rodents of his own—junkies, homosexuals, thieves, who compose his squadron. Only proper, announces his commandant, since "war is a criminal enterprise." So is Play Dirty, which leaves no oases of taste or drama along its route. There is also no room for Caine, a skilled actor, to display his talents in a war picture that could give hell a...

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