Honour was their code
Running Time: 128 minutes
UK Certificate: 15
Country: United States
War? Huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. But thats never stopped Hollywoods top directors from wanting to dip their toes into its bloody waters and now, with Windtalkers, its the turn of perennial hit-and-miss-artist John Woo.
This is billed as the story of how the U.S. military used the Native American language of the Navajo as an uncrackable code in their battles with the Japanese during World War II. So we get Nicolas Cage as the droopy-eyed and half-deaf Marine assigned to protect one of these so-called windtalkers Private Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach) as bullets rain down, grenades get chucked, and blood and snotters splatter in all directions.
The movie hints at the spiritual nature of the Navajo people, but never uses it to its advantage. Racism, too, is one of the issues that threatens to become important to the film but never quite does. It might be a tad cynical to suggest Woo steers us inadvertently towards such areas only to swiftly change direction after realising hes coming far too close to a bit of character development – but, if the cap fits, etc.
This, Woos follow-up to the feature-length shampoo commercial that was Mission: Impossible II, is little more than an overlong compilation of various war movie clichés. Sure, theyre competently put-together clichés but theyre still clichés. It all makes for some seriously pointless viewing, as one dragged-out battle sequence merges into the next, with precious little in-between to make us actually care.
The story of the windtalkers is potentially a very interesting one, but here its reduced to little more than a gimmick in a cheesy flag-waving attempt at matching the big screen success of the likes of Saving Private Ryan. Suffice to say, it doesnt work.
It's Got: Lots of images of billowing stars and stripes, accompanied by ridiculously-patriotic music.
It Needs: A hearing aid for Mr Cage.
DVD Extras Choice of commentaries from either Nicolas Cage and Christian Slater or bit-part player Roger Willie and real-life Navajo windtalker Albert Smith, a made-for-TV special, actors boot camp featurette, on-set diaries, and a stills gallery. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10
World War II at its most boring.