Men of Honor (2000) - Synopsis

Men of Honor (2000)

"The Navy Diver is not a fighting man.
He is a salvage expert.
If it's lost underwater, he finds it.
If it's sunk, he brings it up.
If it's in the way, he moves it.
If he's lucky, he dies young
two hundred feet beneath the waves.
'Cause that is the closest he will ever
get to being a hero.
Hell, I don't know why anybody would want
to be a Navy Diver. "

-Billy Sunday, Master Chief Navy Diver

So preaches Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro) to twenty trainees assembled on the pier of the Navy Dive School in Bayonne, New Jersey, on a chilly morning in l952. He brags that three-quarters of them will fail the training. Of those who do pass, only three will live to reach retirement.

"Because diving is the most dangerous job in the Navy," states Sunday. "So who wants to quit right now?"

Certainly not Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a young, black third-class sailor who has spent two years writing a hundred letters to get accepted into the Navy Dive School program of the newly integrated military. In addition to undergoing a punishing physical training program, Brashear must study and excel in physics, chemistry, diving, medicine and mechanics. His goal is clear, his determination fixed.

A major obstacle is presented by Billy Sunday, a celebrated Master Chief Navy Diver whose exploits as a troublemaker are as legendary as his accomplishments as a diver. Medically disqualified from diving and removed from active duty, an angry Sunday has been transferred to his current position as training officer for the Navy Dive School. The Mississippi-born Sunday is certain that the rigorous dive program is no place for Carl, the son of a Kentucky sharecropper with a seventh grade education.

But Brashear has other ideas. Nothing will stand in the way of his becoming a Navy Diver. Eventually, even Billy Sunday is won over by Brashear's iron will and exceptional diving abilities. Never one to turn down an opportunity to flout the system, the rebellious senior officer helps Brashear buck a racist bureaucracy and overcome a crippling injury to go on to make military history. By the time he retires, Brashear earns the esteemed titles of Master Diver and Master Chief, the Navy's highest rate for an enlisted man.

Fox 2000 Pictures presents a State Street Pictures production, a George Tillman. film, starring Academy Award-winning actors Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr.., in MEN OF HONOR. Also starring are Charlize Theron, Hal Holbrook, David Keith, Michael Rapaport, Aunjanue Ellis and Powers Boothe. The film is directed by George Tillman., and produced by Robert Teitel and Bill Badalato. The film is written by Scott Marshall Smith, based upon the life of Carl Brashear. Bill Cosby and Stanley Robertson are the executive producers.

The director of photography is Anthony B. Richmond, A.S.C./B.S.C., the production designer is Leslie Dilley, and the film editor is John Carter, A.C.E. The costume designer is Salvador Perez, and music is by Mark Isham.