Bronson's Magnificent One
Steve Boland (Charles Bronson) has learned to always look out for number one which has lead him into a life of crime. It has also meant that when he finds himself drafted into the US Army to fight in WWII he often rubs people up the wrong way with his selfish attitude and scamming lifestyle. But that all begins to change when he meets and falls for Ilsa (Violet Rensing), a German whose estranged brother Karl (Richard Jaeckel) is part of the "Werewolves", a group of Nazi assassins who plan to parachute behind the American lines and kill high ranking officers. When Steve tries to tell his superiors what he has learned they are more concerned with arresting him for having gone AWOL forcing Steve to take matters into his own hands.
If you saw "When Hell Broke Loose" listed on the TV schedule it might appeal because of two things; it stars Charles Bronson and it is a World War II movie. After watching the chances are that the only people who will be satisfied are those who are fans of Bronson because as a war movie "When Hell Broke Loose" is just a black & white B-movie made on the cheap with the use of stock footage and newsreels.
Now it has to be said that the start of "When Hell Broke Loose" seems confused as to what it wants to be as it serves up a strange mix of scenes. In an early scene where Steve doesn't even blink an eye when he hears of what happened at Pearl Harbour it sets him up as a heartless character. But then we see Steve in training where he is always scamming and playing the system which has the cheap gag of him pulling sick time by heating up a thermometer with his match. The gags don't really fit and whilst they are not big laugh moments still break the movie's flow in trying to establish the selfish nature of Steve.
But that is not the only issue with "When Hell Broke Loose" as another big issue is down to the fact that this was not a big budget movie. As such when we get to the main story of Steve having to take matters into his own hands and become a hero there is a lack of action. We also have to deal with "When Hell Broke Loose" being one of those movies which uses action footage from other movies when it comes to the bigger scenes.
Despite this "When Hell Broke Loose" is still watchable thanks to Charles Bronson who is young, enthusiastic and interesting. From being the despicable crook to the hero Bronson has something about him which makes his character likeable and that is what keeps you involved even though when it comes to his character there is no real believable development just bad guy one minute, good guy the next.
What this all boils down to is that "When Hell Broke Loose" is simply a forgettable b-movie and if it wasn't for Charles Bronson and his likeable nature it would also be a complete disappointment.