The Giant Killer Documentary Review, The Life and Death of the Smallest Green Beret

Standing at 4’9, Richard Flaherty became the shortest member of the Green Beret. A decorated veteran of the Vietnam war, The Giant Killer covers his life and unusual death.

Like far too many veterans of the war, Flaherty suffered when he returned home to the US. He got mixed up in some shady business at times and has a passport with a whole lot of stamps that no one knows the story behind. You see, Flaherty was homeless for years. Rumors of him working special operations are present as those who knew him discuss what he may have been up to for a good 30 years.

The Giant Killer documentary is more about his military life than anything else. I went in looking for more of a true crime documentary. This was much different.

What was good about The Giant Killer

Eh, I don’t want to be cruel. Partly because I was expecting something different, I had a hard time getting into this one. It’s slow-paced, low-budget, and has little tantalizing moments. The story of history’s smallest Green Beret who served in Vietnam could’ve been much more exciting.

Details of Flaherty’s time in Vietnam are a bit interesting. I think a whole documentary centered on this might’ve worked better. Instead, we get something too scrambled.

What could have made The Giant Killer better

The documentary sets itself up as a bit of a mystery but quickly turns biographical. I’ve seen a few other documentaries like this. They feel a bit lost. Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Death of Al Adamson is practically the same documentary as The Giant Killer except instead of Vietnam we have the film industry. I’m not sure which has harmed more people.

The Giant Killer only gets into the crime aspect in the final 20 minutes or so. Flaherty survived the horrors of war only to later get killed while crossing the street. It’s one of those cruel jokes by God whose sense of humor doesn’t translate onto humanity.

The crime aspect didn’t really fit much into the story, but it is intriguing. There definitely wasn’t enough content for The Giant Killer to focus on this alone. I felt its inclusion kind of changed the message of the film; whatever it is they were trying to get across.

Most of The Giant Killer is interview-driven. Many are military men Flaherty knew during his life. They have a few stories to tell about him. None, aside from the occasional horrific war legend, are too memorable.

This documentary suffers most from not having a clear purpose. Are they trying to say we don’t respect our veterans enough? Is it praise for a man who didn’t let his size prevent him from becoming a war hero? It’s unclear.

Is The Giant Killer worth watching?

I’ll give it this, it was better than the fictional totally unrelated film I Kill Giants. Can you believe the giants were only in the little girl’s mind in that film? It might be one of the most falsely advertised movies I’ve ever seen. It makes me almost as mad as when I saw Contact as a kid and the alien looked like Jodie Foster’s dad.

The Giant Killer is not a documentary I can recommend. It didn’t fully capture the impressiveness of Flaherty’s life or war accomplishments. Too much is unanswered after his life in the military. Not enough evidence is even presented in order to believe he was a covert operative.

Overall Score: 2 out of 10

When a documentary is something different than expected, I’m usually disappointed. I’m trying hard to give The Giant Killer a little more benefit of the doubt. I think the end result just wasn’t captivating enough.

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