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Carl Brashear, the U.S. Navy’s first African-American master diver, apparently had a brilliant career. But that wasn’t good enough for Hollywood, which has turned his story into a semifictionalized and wildly sentimental fable. The son of a Kentucky sharecropper, Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.) joins the Navy shortly after Harry Truman desegregated the armed forces, hoping to become a diver. He immediately encounters institutional racism, personified here by Master Chief Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro), a character entirely invented by screenwriter Scott Marshall Smith. But Brashear perseveres, besting first racism and then a crippling leg injury, which he overcomes with a monomaniacal solution. George (Soul Food) Tillman Jr.’s old-fashioned melodrama combines elements of recent military tub-thumpers such as G.I. Jane, A Few Good Men, and Rules of Engagement, while bearing a strong resemblance to another not-so-true recent movie, Remember the Titans. Both extol a combination of macho cussedness and high principle, canonizing a bullheaded, unstoppable black man who battles racism while assembling a supporting cast of righteous white folks: the only recruit who will initially bunk with Brashear (Michael Rapaport), Sunday’s young wife (Charlize Theron), and ultimately Sunday himself, who bonds with Brashear as a fellow maverick. If Men of Honor has more interesting locations than Titans, it also seems much longer, and its music (by Mark Isham) is even more hectoring. Incredibly, the cinematographer is Anthony B. Richmond, who shot such singular films as Godard’s One Plus One and Roeg’s Don’t Look Now. —Mark Jenkins