Aside from Inside Man, Spike Lee is a filmmaker whose films I have very little experience with. As is the case with so many other filmmakers, this is not out of any intention of mine to avoid them but more a case of finding the time amongst all of the other films, shows, and music that I am into. That said, I did enjoy Inside Man and was definitely looking forward to Miracle at St. Anna. The setup seemed to be intriguing as it focuses on the Buffalo Soldiers of World War II, whom I do not recall seeing many films about. Actually, I cannot recall any.
The story begins in 1983. Hector Negron (Laz Alonso) is in his apartment in New York City watching a John Wayne war film. As he watches the film, he says, "We fought that war, too." The scene shifts to the post office, where Hector works the counter selling stamps. A man comes to the desk, asks for a stamp, and is promptly shot by Hector, point blank. Hector is arrested, and during the search of his apartment the long-missing head of an Italian statue is found in the back of his closet. Reporter Tim Boyle (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) questions Negron about why he shot the man and why the head was in his closet. Negron responds saying that he is the only one who knows.
Flash back to the mid-1940s. The war is raging on and the Buffalo Soldiers, 92nd Regiment, are making a move on the German lines. During a particularly brutal encounter, Staff Sergeant Stamps (Derek Luke) calls for artillery backup. However, the white commanding officer cannot believe that black soldiers could have crossed the river line, and the strike never comes.
Once the smoke clears, we are left with four survivors trapped behind enemy lines: Stamps, Negron, Bishop Cummings (Micheal Ealy), and Sam Train (Omar Benson Miller). They take refuge in a small hillside village, along with an injured boy named Angelo (Matteo Schiabordi). Angelo forms a bond with Train that crosses the language barrier and helps inject the story with its heart.