Wednesday, May 30, 2012

31/50x2: Rescue Dawn

When this film was first released I really wanted to see it. It was right around the time that Christian Bale was becoming (or cementing himself as) a pretty top-notch actor. Plus, for the most part, war films are usually done rather well.

Rescue Dawn stars Bale as Dieter Dengler, who is German-born but is a U.S. Navy pilot. During a mission his plane is shot down over Laos. He is captured, but given the opportunity to go free if he signs a document against the United States - he refuses so he is sent to a prisoner of war camp.

Here he meets a few other P.O.W.'s from around the world, including Americans Gene DeBruin (Jeremy Davies) and Duane W. Martin (Steve Zahn), who have been captive for a few years now - and so they are a bit stir crazy.

The camp is pretty strict with guards with guns walking around 24/7. At night the prisoners are even locked up by their hands and feet and forced to lay on the wooden floor of their "cell".

Immediately after being taken to the camp, Dengler begins his plans for escaping, despite the concerns of the other captives who have been beaten down both physically and mentally during their time at the camp. But, the others agree to help once Dengler comes up with a plan.

Possible Spoilers Ahead

Dengler and the others eventually do escape, but a few of the other captives don't follow Dengler's plans and thus both he and Martin are forced to trek though the jungle without any shoes because one of the men didn't grab some for them.

This is sort of where things get annoying for me. I was all ready for the small group of people that escaped to work their way through the jungle and to possible safety - with of course obstacles along the way - but they all split up and Dengler and Martin head of together without anyone else.

In fact, we never hear or see from any of the other characters at all, not even at the conclusion of the film. That irritated me. I wanted to know what happened to Davies' character. Did he make it? Was he killed or recaptured? But, we got nothing.

Then comes the strange occurrence at one of the villages that the pair we do get to follow come across. The two get on their knees in hopes that the villagers will see that they are not threatening and will offer them food and shelter. But, instead, one of the villagers chops off Martin's head. At first I thought this was all a dream or mirage that one the guys was thinking about. And I got even more confused when not much time later we actually see Martin walk up and sit down next to Dengler - but no, that was the actual mirage, the dude was killed, decapitated.

And, the decapitation looked horrible and fake.

As much as I would love to actually love this movie. As much as I enjoyed the acting and all of the main actors. I just could not get past some of these things at the end of the film. It's two hours long and almost immediately are dropped into this camp and get to know the prisoners there - but no closure is given on more than half of them. That truly bugged me.

Bale, Davies and Zahn gave top-notch performances, but the overall film left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I can't hate it completely, but it drops my grade because of it.



  1. If I remember correctly, this was a movie based on true events. So some of your issues with the film may just be a case of "Thats just the way it happened" The decapitation caught me by surprise too.

  2. Oh, I have no doubt that it was based on true events - I usually put that stuff in, but I must have forgotten this time.

    Even if they would have given me a bit of a crawl at the end explaining what happened to the others I may have been a bit more satisfied. But, the lack of anything after spending that much time with certain characters just didn't sit right with me.

    Thanks for the comment!