Windtalkers (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This is an extraordinarily bad movie.

It is supposed to be about the "windtalkers", the Navajos in WW2 who sent and received military code based on their native language.

It isn't.

That is simply a gimmick that they mentioned once or twice to set the premise for some clichéd 1940's-style war film kitsch. The premise is this: other soldiers are assigned to the "windtalkers", and their mission is to protect the Navajos at all costs, but if they cannot protect them, they must kill them before the Japanese can interrogate them and decipher the code.



About 1% of the film is spent on that premise.

I suppose about 65% of the film is battle sequences with big explosions. Some of them are OK sequences, but most are not. A lot of them are the ol' "explosion in the center, stunt guys jump in all directions" scenes. Hard to believe that noted action director John Woo couldn't do better than this. This portion of the film is bo-r-r-r-r-r-ing.

The rest? When the film is not showing explosions, it is showing the usual platoon and male bonding clichés, and the dialogue seemed to be from a parody rather than from a film meant to be taken seriously. I cringed in embarrassment several times.

"Give this ring to my wife, sarge". "Put that ring back on your finger, soldier, 'cuz yer goin' home."

"My son, when you talk about him, say he was Joe Machopants ... and say he was my friend".

You know, the sad thing is that I didn't make either of those up except that Cage's name wasn't really Machopants. It was Machopantuzzi, "until some assholes at Ellis Island got ahold of it".

The characterizations in the film are cardboard. The Japanese are evil and faceless, as in the 1940's movies, soulless creatures existing only to fall down when Cage shoots. The Navajo is unremittingly cheerful, considerate, and smiling, so pure of heart and spirit that he makes Francis of Assisi seem like Larry Flynt. Then there is the tough-talkin' sarge with the funny accent, the letters from a best girly being read in voice-over, and the racist guy who hates "injuns". (I'll give you one guess who saved his life in battle.) And so forth.

Name a war cliché. It was in there.

DVD info from Amazon about this film

DVD info from Amazon about a documentary on the actual role the Navajos played in WW2

Oh, yeah, they used stock footage (in a $115 million dollar film), and the acting kinda sucks as well. Nic Cage, the star,  continues his quest for a Razzie, and the rest of the cast wasn't far behind. I can't really blame the cast, however. They didn't write this shit.

I'll bet you could make a great movie about the "windtalkers". Unless you are John Woo.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two stars. Ebert 2/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4, BBC 3/5

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: a disaster. Lavishly constructed for $115 million, it grossed $40 million.


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, D. I don't know if I have ever given a D to a film with such production values. Too bad they had no script to go with it. It was a waste of my time, although I like male bonding movies and many stirring war movies.

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