The Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicle, as designed, was a deathtrap. If it were to be sent into combat without significant modifications, it could kill hundreds of our own soldiers. So what do you do when the top brass orders you to make it pass the tests, so that it can be deployed in the field on schedule and make them look good? Do you make a somber, tragic movie showing the depths to which humanity can sink? Do you do a scathing news exposé of the affair and demand accountability?
No, you make a made-for-TV comedy starring Kelsey Grammer
as a Maj. General Partridge who wants the Bradley in production no matter how much of a liability it is to its own crew, and Cary Elwes
as Lt. Colonel Burton, who will do everything he can to prevent that from happening.
This made-for-TV movie provides examples of:
- Analogy Backfire: General Partridge makes this mistake in front of a Congressional Committee when discussing the accuracy of the Paveway bomb, which missed 50% of the time.
General Partridge: In baseball a guy who hits .400 is considered pretty damn great.
Congressman: In baseball the losing team isn't killed by their opponents.
- Armed Farces: A slightly more serious example, but the movie is very openly satirical.
- Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Col. Smith, everytime the Generals above him demand a change to the Bradley's design.
- Bittersweet Ending: While Burton does manage to expose the Bradley's flaws and force the army to design a much safer version, it's still not enough to change the system that created it in the first place. General Partridge still gets his promotion and his private sector job opportunities, while Burton is forced to retire.
- Bothering by the Book: "We can't touch him, sir, it's by the book."
- Brick Joke: "Paper cuts, Fanning. Vicious paper cuts."
- Development Hell: The Bradley has been in development for 17 years as the movie opens. Sadly, Truth in Television: Most military projects of this sort takes decades. The problem is that the combination of having the companies designing component features locked in from the start (despite the fact that technology changes extremely rapidly compared to the production period) and the evolving realistic needs of the military, and the demands of the brass, result in a remarkably broken system for development. As this film demonstrates.
- False Reassurance: As spoken by Kelsey Grammer in perhaps the snarkiest moment in the movie.
"General, were you for or against the Major's testing regimen?"
"Absolutely not, yes? Or absolutely not, no?"
"Absolutely not, absolutely."
- Executive Meddling: The top brass change their minds several times about what kind of performance/armament they want the Bradley to have, often in mid-design. Causing major delays and budget overruns. Even worse, they tend to criticize the very features they requested previously.
- Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee: Partridge
- Jurisdiction Friction: Partridge is Army, Burton is Air Force, and only "work" together because the Pentagon has decided to make weapons testing a joint operation.
- Moving the Goalposts: The various ways the Bradley “passes” its readiness tests.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Burton. It backfires somewhat, as it places him under the command of someone else other than the general that Partridge had been counting on to be unavailable to authorize Burton's testifying at the committee hearing.
- Undisclosed Funds: Averted - $14 Billion, with a "B".