Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A successful anti-war-movie is one that makes you want to leave the cinema. Windtalkers is like that.

It is supposed to be about the contribution Red Indians - sorry, Native Americans - made during the conflict in the Pacific. Being politically correct, they are portrayed as loyal, intelligent, honourable and brave. Actually, there are only two, Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach) and Charlie Whitehorse (Roger Willie). The rest are with other units.

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Trained as radio operators, they communicate in a native tongue that only they understand. It is called The Code.

Joe (Nicolas Cage) is a sergeant, whose job is to protect The Code, which means that he babysits Yahzee to make sure he isn't captured or killed by the enemy. Some of the other guys in the platoon make racist jokes. Joe doesn't do that. He's not a jokes kind of person.

They invade the island of Saipan, which is full of Japanese. Battle scenes are laid on, with plenty of slo-mo and ricochet sound effects to remind you of Saving Private Ryan. It appears to be futile and horrendous. Joe demonstrates courage on a level that is certifiable. He's either crazy with rage, or crazy.

You don't understand him. He's not a talker. He does his duty and that's what he's good at. If he has opinions, he keeps them to himself, except he doesn't like being decorated. He knows the price of survival and doesn't appreciate a medal for not dying.

Joe is the hero of the piece. He has problems with balance and hearing after being blown up in a previous incident, but, after time in the military hospital, where Nurse Rita (Frances O'Connor) takes a shine to him, he goes back into action. Something has happened. He's not fun any more. Perhaps, he never was.

This is the first full scale WWII flick from Hong Kong's John Woo. He's not good with people. You don't care about any of them, even the red ones. He specialises in the spectacle of violent death and, after a while, this becomes monotonous. What is worse, you hate to watch it, which, of course, is the point.

Cage suffers. You feel him suffering. You watch his eyes go painy. Joe is not an interesting man. Why bother with him? The film is the same.

War is hell. Hell is war. Ugly is ugly. What else is new? Nothing.

Reviewed on: 29 Aug 2002
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Nicolas Cage babysits radio operators during at attack on a Japanese island in WWII.
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Director: John Woo

Writer: John Rice, Joe Batteer

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Adam Beach, Peter Stormare, Noah Emmerich, Mark Ruffalo, Brian Van Holt, Martin Henderson, Roger Henderson, Roger Willie, Frances O'Connor, Christian Slater

Year: 2002

Runtime: 133 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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