7.10.2005

The Great Raid

Director Robert Dahl pays homage to the heroes of World War II stationed in the Philippines who underwent an audacious rescue mission to release 500 prisoners of war from the hands of the Japanese in “The Great Raid” (opening early September 2005). This is the story about the expendables, the forgotten.

The film concerns the true story of the 6th Ranger Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel Mucci (Benjamin Bratt) and their dangerous orders to rescue American soldiers from Cabanatuan Japanese POW camp in 1947. Dahl’s film emphasizes the inhumane side of war by deemphasizing battle and focusing on the cruelty Filipinos and American captives faced at the hands of the Japanese soldiers. “Raid” is a reputable war film everyone should see for the knowledge and the emotional sacrifice men in the service must commit and did commit to this war in particular.

The interpretation of the story on film is unquestionably artistic. The beginning and conclusion of the film features actual historical footage with narration that places the audience in the scene and timeline of the war. Dahl smoothly transitions into the story without disrupting the setup with saturated colorations or a battle scene. He does, however, start the film with a gruesome truth that automatically signifies this film will be raw and truthful about the grim facts of WWII in this location.

The prisoners are ill with malaria, emaciated, and tortured, but that’s not enough tension; there’s a love story involving the nurse, Margaret Utinsky (Connie Nielson), that smuggled antibiotics to the prisoners in the camps and her connection to one of the prisoners. The Japanese use this relationship to their advantage, but there is not a theme of love conquers all; it is the heart wrenching and truthful interpretation that keeps this portion of the story in line with the themes Dahl chose to accentuate.

The soundtrack to the film is the weak portion, and unfortunately keeps this film from being a greatly made film in entirety. The music is overly dramatic and attempts to manipulate the audience into feeling emotions that already exist from the visual experience, such as done in “Pay it Forward” (2000). This is the fault of most American filmmakers; they don’t believe an audience is smart enough to interpret the actions on the screen, so directors use music or dialog to overly accentuate a point that results in redundancy.

The final act of the film is the most impressive and is without a doubt a magnificent climax and conclusion, as the Japanese are faced with their demise by American and Filipino soldiers. The battle scene is truthful, showing men fighting to their death. What’s impressive is the camaraderie between Filipino and American soldiers to save the prisoners.

MPAA Rating: R - for war violence and brief language

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