There may be potential juice in the story of “The Second Meeting,” which involves two wartime enemies who later forge a peaceful trans-Atlantic friendship. But writer-producer-director Zeljko Mirkovic’s clunker of a documentary demands a full narrative and editorial rethink.
In 1999, an American F-117A stealth bomber piloted by Lt. Col. Dale Zelko, was shot down over Serbia by Yugoslav missile officer Zoltan Dani. Zelko parachuted to safety and Dani became a national hero. Twelve years later, family men Zelko and Dani visit each other in their home countries (how this came about goes unexplained), proving that just because someone tried to kill you doesn’t mean you can’t be buddies.
Given how Zelko’s and Dani’s lives first intersected, it’s shocking that the film proves so devoid of drama, conflict or tension. That might feel a tad less egregious if there was a more effective structure and focus, not to mention greater depth and emotion (Zelko’s wife’s frequent waterworks aside) to the kumbaya-heavy proceedings.
But the movie is hijacked by Zelko’s corny ebullience, vacant chatter and hammy song stylings (“Mairzy Doats”? Really?), not to mention the banal, repetitive filler linking the ex-soldiers’ stagy reunions. The result: This mission, well intended as it may be, proves a no-go from the get-go.
“The Second Meeting.” No MPAA Rating. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes. In English and Serbian with English subtitles. At Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, Pasadena.