The first explosion let’s us know that Black Book isn’t The Sorrow and the Pity. Paul Verhoeven’s joyful fascination with gruesome carnage, given full reign over the course of his singular career, is put into the service of a “true story” – or so the audience is solemnly assured.

What kind of high school history teacher Verhoeven might have been! Breasts, puke, Nazis, machine guns, blackened corpses, hairbreadth escapes, mistaken identity, pubic hair dying, torture, SS men who can carry a tune, SEX!

The film sometimes feels like an Esther Williams epic, a 1940’s serial, a 1980’s miniseries with David Soul and Cheryl Ladd, a hallucinatory expedition to the Hollywood Wax Museum, a train ride through an EC comic book, Mel Brooks’s version of To Be or Not to Be, La Femme Nikita, Exodus … the History Channel wishes World War II was like this!

At three action packed hours, Black Book gave me everything I could’ve hoped for – and threw in a bounty of disgusting images perhaps I could’ve done without.

Grade: A

Black Book is currently available.