Nicolas Cage, Adam Beach, Christian Slater
Windtalkers is the latest film from Hong Kong action
master John Woo. The story revolves around Sgt. Joe Enders
(Nicolas Cage) and Pvt. Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach), during the
American invasion of the island of Saipan. Pvt. Yahzee is
one of the new "code talkers", Navajo Indians who have been
recruited to use their language as the new radio code for
the Marines. The Japanese had broken all the previous codes,
so it is vital that this new code not fall into their hands.
This is where Sgt. Enders main duty lies: he is assigned to
protect Pvt. Yahzee, but more importantly to ensure that the
code is protected at all costs.
We've come to expect mega-action scenes and choreographed
fights from John Woo's films, and Windtalkers is no
different. However, this is both good and bad for the movie;
on the one hand, the huge battleground scenes are very well
done, with mortar shells and grenades exploding all around.
Slow motion shots show every piece of dirt and wood flying
through the air, and soldiers die by the dozens. The weapons,
uniforms and vehicles are all expertly done, with booming
explosions and teeth-jarring machine gun fire.
On the other hand, the main characters seem almost invincible.
In other John Woo films, this is fine, but this is a war movie,
not a "one man against all" film. Nicolas Cage mows down wave
after wave of Japanese soldiers, and when his machine gun
runs out, he pulls out his pistol and proceeds to mow down
another wave, never taking so much as a scratch (until it
serves the story, that is). When in trouble, he rolls out
of the way of bullets, kills half a dozen soldiers, rolls
again, and kills another dozen. In John Woo style, everything
is perfectly choreographed. But after seeing the gritty, realistic
battles of other war films (Saving Private Ryan, We
Were Soldiers, Black Hawk Down) it just feels out
of place here.
Overall though, the movie is entertaining, giving a bit of
a history lesson about the valuable role the Navajo people
played in the taking of the Pacific during WWII. The characters
are well rounded, and we get a little insight and background
on almost everyone in the unit. If you are a fan of John Woo
or war films in general, I recommend seeing Windtalkers.
- - Darken Rahl