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bullets flying, bodies flying. yes, it's a John Woo film
on June 11, 2002
Windtalkers is the story of two American soldiers (one played by Christian Slater, the other played by Nic Cage) who are assigned to protect two Navajo soldiers who work as windtalkers, transmitting messages past Japanese codebreakers using their code based on Navajo language.
Yes, there's a lot of violence. Yes, it's grim. The bodyguards, Cage and Slater, are instructed to kill the windtalkers rather than let them fall into enemy hands.
This is a big war movie, not quite on the scale of Saving Private Ryan, but somewhere between something that grand and magnificent and, say, Behind Enemy Lines. Cage and Slater do a good job with their parts, which aren't very fully fleshed out characters.
Woo's direction used to be so over-the-top and artsy... the fight scenes used to be like cartoons, with bad guy and good guy blazing away at each other with two pistols... the most violent scenes were often preceded by or accompanying flocks of birds taking to flight, and bullet-riddled bodies always seem to pirouet in slow motion before they fall down dead. Woo has left a lot of the old personal director's style out of this one, actually. There ARE a lot of bullets, and a lot of the fighting scenes are very unrealistic (true to old Woo there), and there is one scene very reminiscent of old John Woo, where a butterfly floats gracefully above a river then suddenly a bloody body falls into that river, destroying the gorgeous image, juxtaposing a graceful natural image with a gory violent one, etc.
ANYWAY, mostly this is a shoot 'em up war movie, and the old John Woo style is MOSTLY absent.
The story has that one feature going for it, the protection of the Navajo codetalkers, but otherwise it's a very standard war movie, in terms of plot. Still, this movie comes off surprisingly well.
If you're a fan of the American John Woo movies, like Broken Arrow, or Mission Impossible II or Face/Off, or you liked some movies recently like Black Hawk Down or Behind Enemy Lines, you ought to take a look at Windtalkers. It's not the best war movie of the last few years (I'd vote for Saving Private Ryan for that), or the best action movie, but it is entertaining and memorable...