Windtalkers (2002) Directed by John Woo
War, what is it good for? Apparently a host of war movies. Hollywood still churns these things out at an alarming rate. Saving Private Ryan, The Hurt Locker, Inglorious Basterds, Black Hawk Down, Valkyrie. It seems strange in this day and age that intelligent film makers still make the kind of war movie that offers no real political context but are pictures about individual heroics in any given situation.
It's possible that John Woo's Windtalkers is trying to convey a message of racial tolerance with it's story of two Navajo Marines using their native language as unbreakable codes to further the US army's battle against the Japanese in the Second World War. Of course the Navajo are treated with suspicion and racist insults by the good old US Marines they fight alongside. Clint Eastwood covered the political implication of this implicit racism with more subtlety in the disappointing Flags Of Our Fathers.
Macho spirit is still alive and well in Windtalkers, and it seems just showing that you can become a killing machine, weather Navajo or not is enough to get those pesky racists on your side. So much for a thoughtful discussion on racism in the armed forces. Windtalkers really is quite awful. This film pretty much ended Woo's patchy association with Hollywood and you can tell that the film has been compromised. Woo's usual high standard of action sequences are missing here, replaced by a journeyman approach to visual combat.
The only redeeming feature here is another great Nicholas Cage performance as a character who's on the edge and probably insane. He plays these so well, Cage is always watchable in this form. Unfortunately the rest of the picture lets him down in the most pathetic, cliched manner. Like the machine gun fire that's often relentless in Windtalkers, avoid this picture for the sake of your own well being.