Nicolas Cage, Adam Beach, Christian Slater
Directed By:
John Woo

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

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