In the brutal World War 2 Battle of Saipan, Sergeant Joe Enders (Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage) guards - and ultimately befriends - Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach), a young Navajo trained in the one wartime code never broken by the enemy, the Navajo Code. But if Yahzee should fall into Japanese hands, how far will Enders go to save the military's most powerful secret? John Woo directs this "exciting" (Premiere) "against-all-odds battle adventure" (The Toronto Star) written by John Rice and Joe Batteer and inspired by the true story of the Navajo soldiers whose courage and sacrifices helped win the war in the Pacific.
On December 8, 1941, the United States declared war on Japan. For the next several years, U.S. forces were fully engaged in battle throughout the Pacific, taking over islands one by one in a slow progression towards mainland Japan.During this brutal campaign, the Japanese were able to break coded military, dramatically slowing U.S. progress.
In 1942, several hundred Navajo Americans were recruited as Marines and trained to use their language as code. Marine Joe Enders is assigned to protect Ben Yahzee - a Navajo code talker, the Marines' new secret weapon. Enders' orders are to protect his code talker, but if Yahzee should fall into enemy hands, he's to "protect the code at all costs." Against the backdrop of the horrific Battle of Saipan, when capture is imminent, Enders is forced to make a decision: if he can't protect his fellow Marine, can he bring himself to kill him to protect the code? The Navajo code was the only one never broken by the Japanese, and is considered to have been key in winning the war.
Everyone who knows of this movie I think also knows it's very simple premise, based on a true story - a code based on the native american indian language, thus impenetrable by the enemy as long as they did not have access to a speaker of the language who understood the code.
Nicholas Cage is Joe Enders, a marine assigned the task of "protecting the code", a task that essentially involves being body guard to a Navajo radio operator, but with a terrible responsibility to ensure that that operator does not fall into enemy hands alive, if the situation should arise.
On paper, this film should rock - John Woo directing, Nicholas Cage and Christian Slater out front, and an easily comprehended premise providing the basis for a strong emotional drama played out against the backdrop of World War II.
In practise, unfortunately, things don't quite seem to gel. The biggest problem is that John Woo just isn't able to shake off that certain "other worldly" feel that seems to permeate his Hollywood movies. This works in his favour when the premise is itself fantastical (Face/Off), or at least hyper-real (Broken Arrow), but Windtalkers demands a more grounded sensibility. The battle scenes in this movie are undeniably well staged, but it is also impossible not to see them as precisely that - staged.
A theme of racism running through the story provides the framework for some of the strongest performances in the movie, but ultimately is underplayed and thrown away, to the point that it could easily have been lost in the editing room without anyone noticing.
Similarly a story device involving letters from a wannabe girlfriend falls flat and is quickly forgotten when the uncomfortably inevitable ending makes resolving that particular element of the story inconveniently awkward.
All of which is a crushing shame, as there is undeniably a story worth telling in the truth of the events that inspired this movie, and for that alone I would say the film is worth seeing. Just don't expect Private Ryan or Letters from Iwo Jima levels of gritty reality.
You can earn a 5% commission by selling Windtalkers DVD on your website. It's easy to get started - we will give you example code. After you're set-up, your website can earn you money while you work, play or even sleep!
Are you the Author/Publisher? Improve sales by submitting additional information on this title.