Published Dec 01, 2002John Woo has always been able to captivate the screen with his extremely violent yet graceful action scenes when filming in Hong Kong, but has come short in recapturing this essence in Hollywood. Woo has failed to hit the mark again with his signature extreme violence sequences being adapted to the World War II setting in his latest American effort, "Windtalkers."
Nicolas Cage continues to bury his career into the ground as he brutally portrays an uptight Sergeant Joe Enders. Sent back into battle after a medical stay in which he has not fully recovered from, Enders is given the task of protecting a private by the name of Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach) who is part of the Marine's new wave of Navajo code-talkers. Enders must do whatever it takes to protect the code even if it means killing Yahzee if he's in danger of being captured. Enders sees this babysitting duty as a bruise to his macho ego and never really let's up from the major chip on his shoulder that is the code. When these new speciality recruits arrive in Japan to serve their country with their un-crackable code they're greeted by ignorance from their fellow soldiers, including the extremely cranky Joe Enders. Soon "Windtalkers" takes the "Rudy" approach of filmmaking where the Navajo have to win respect and show everyone that they too are a part of this war. Endless encounters with thick-headed brutes who don't understand ancient rituals run thin very quickly and it's not until Yahzee literally has to risk his life to save the lives of his infantry that he begins to earn equality.
"Windtalkers" was "inspired" by the events of a true story. This basically means the writers took a good idea to base a movie around but added Woo's insane amount of explosions and bloodshed and some truly exhausting and stale dialogue. The idea of having Navajo code-talkers could have separated this film from the other rush of war movies in recent years, but soon the plot has less to do with code and takes the patriotic approach in retelling the battles. The Japanese are once again faceless as they are given no screen time unless being mowed down by our "heroes." Rather than senseless scenes of a disgruntled Nicolas Cage plowing through his lines, maybe there should have been more focus on the Japanese trying to make sense of the code they never could crack. Maybe then this film could have lived up to its expectation of actually throwing something new to the war film genre.