Windtalkers (2002)

JOHN WOO

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  B

USA, 2002.  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Lion Rock Productions.  Screenplay by Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , John Woo.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by , , .  

After suffering devastating losses to his group in the South Pacific (including some very bad personal injuries), Nicolas Cage recovers at an Army hospital when he is given a new order: the US army has developed a code based on the Navajo language that only native speakers understand completely. Each code talker is assigned a soldier to be their protector, though as Cage’s superior points out to him, it is the code that is to be protected, not the soldier.  At first burned out and uninterested in any human connection, Cage gets to know his charge () and soon finds the conflict between duty and humanity to be something of a challenge. Despite a terrific premise, this bombastically embarrassing war movie by John Woo is a washout from start to finish, with battle scenes that feel like B-movie parodies whose indoor sets are quite obviously fake, and attempts at dramatic character interplay that fizzle from the get-go. Woo should stick to balletic gun sequences and leave such grandiose efforts to directors with more experience and skill. Cage received most of the criticism for the low quality of the film, which is unfortunate; however much he doesn’t really lift it out of the mire, he can’t be held responsible for all its shortcomings either.

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