The story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War and the soldiers on both sides that fought it, while their wives wait nervously and anxiously at home for the good news or the bad news.
A Navy navigator is shot down over enemy territory and is ruthlessly pursued by a secret police enforcer and the opposing troops. Meanwhile his commanding officer goes against orders in an attempt to rescue him.
In order to foil an extortion plot, an FBI agent undergoes a facial transplant surgery and assumes the identity and physical appearance of a terrorist, but the plan turns from bad to worse when the same terrorist impersonates the FBI agent.
During World War II when the Americans needed to find a secure method of communicating they devised a code using the Navajo language. So Navajos were recruited to become what they call code talkers. They would be assigned to a unit and would communicate with other units using the code so that even though the enemy could listen they couldn't understand what they were saying. And to insure that the code is protected men are assigned to protect it at all costs. One of these men is Joe Enders, a man who sustained an injury that can make him unfit for duty but he manages to avoid it and is told of his duty and that the man he is suppose to protect is Ben Yahzee. Initially there is tension but the two men learn to get along. Written by
Roger Willie was originally hired as a dialect coach to the cast on the Navajo language. But his screentests were so good, they ended up casting him opposite Christian Slater. See more »
While Saipan does have a number of relatively large ridges and high points, they are not as prominent on the landscape as those on Kualoa Ranch, the island standing in for Saipan in the film. See more »
In WWII Navajo men were used as code talkers in the war--they translated messages while in combat into their own language, and transmitted it that way. This was done so the Japanese were unable to understand the messages. It's a very interesting little known fact about the war. It's a good thing they made a movie about it--it's too bad the movie is so lousy.
Every single clichéd line and character found in WWII movies are all here. There's the sergeant who is suffering from a former war trauma; the eager young kid (who you know is gonna get it); the racist (who sees the error of his ways); the nice guy who is horrified by what he sees; the saint-like Navajos etc etc. The dialogue is astonishingly bad. I've heard these same lines from other war flicks--some of them are lifted verbatim (it seems)! Every single line and conflict is predictable. I was able to tell in the first 20 minutes who was going to die--that's how predictable this is!
I almost left but the movie DOES have it's good points. For one thing, war is not glorified. The battle sequences are bloody, loud, very graphic and upsetting...as they should be. However, director John Woo has always been good at shooting violence. Also there's no stupid obligatory romance--heck, there's virtually no females here! There's some good acting also--Adam Beach as one of the Navajos is fantastic--handsome, intelligent if a little too saintlike. Mark Ruffalo is also affecting and Christian Slater (not playing a jerk for once) is excellent. Unfortunately, Nicholas Cage gives another lousy performance as the main character. Can we take back the Oscar he got for "Leaving Las Vegas"?
So, aside from some good acting and extreme violence (be warned...it's VERY explicit...some people walked out because of it), I can't recommend this. Too bad...the subject matter is so interesting.
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