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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.79%
Worth A Look36.26%
Just Average: 21.98%
Pretty Crappy: 20.88%
Sucks: 12.09%

6 reviews, 55 user ratings

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by Matt Mulcahey

"Woo overextends himself in part action/part drama misfire"
3 stars

Well, it took a few years, but with his fifth American film it seems Hollywood has finally domesticated and sanitized once-great action maestro John Woo.

Based on a true story, Windtalkers explores a fascinating but little know bit of World War II history about a group of Navajo’s recruited by the marines to translate a code based on their language. The code was so valuable that each “Windtalker” was assigned a combat marine for protection. However, that protection centered on saving the code, not the person, meaning that if capture was a certainty the “Windtalker” was to be killed.

Deployed to the Japanese island of Saipan shortly after D-Day, Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach) and Charlie Whitehorse (Roger Willie) are put under the watchful eyes of “Ox” Anderson (Christian Slater) and Joe Anders (Nicolas Cage), a battle-scarred marine haunted by the death of his entire platoon, as the American army tries to caputre the small but vital Pacific island.

When the bullets stop flying and the characters start talking, it seems that writers John Rice and Joe Batteer simply pirated a bunch of old War World II movies for their dialogue. Has any war conversation been done more times than the “What I’m going to do when I get home” talk? And everyone should know that if a character tries to give his wedding ring to another soldier in case something should happen to him, that guy will be dead in less than 15 minutes. Toss in the hateful, small-minded soldier (Noah Emmerich) who finally sees the error of his ways and you’ve got every war movie cliché in the book.

However, the film’s biggest failure lies in the relationship between Beach and Cage. Woo paints Cage as a slightly grumpier version of the classic John Wayne stereotype: Unstoppable on the battlefield, but kind-hearted behind his brutish exterior. Cage’s Anders is such a one-dimensional moralist that it’s nearly impossible for the film to explore the human drama inherent in the situation of being assassin/protector, rendering the finale as predictable as the rest of the film.

While Woo has the writers and probably the studio to at least partially blame for the script problems (including a completely unnecessary romantic subplot between Cage and nurse Frances O’Conner), the former Hong Kong action cinema deity has no one to blame but himself for wasting $115 million on ineffective action sequences.

In the wake of Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down and We Were Soldiers, the explosion heavy implausibility of Woo’s battles, backed by a generic James Horner score, make them seem like a relic from the days of Rambo flicks.

Perhaps Windtalkers simply suffers by unfair comparison to the spate of recent war classics. When you think of some of the other garbage that sludged out of Hollywood this summer, Windtalkers is certainly more thoughtful and entertaining than most, and is certainly a step ahead of the likes of Pearl Harbor. But let’s face it, John Woo doesn’t handle people very well unless he’s killing them. As Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations,” and hopefully, after this, Woo realizes his.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4727&reviewer=255
originally posted: 11/11/02 00:25:40
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell good action thats about it 3 stars
8/04/13 SniperSarge I enjoyed the movie 4 stars
11/28/07 Bnorm Shameful piece of dookie. Nic Cage is in no way bad ass. At all. 1 stars
9/26/07 Sugarfoot John Woo has lost it, period. See A Bullet In The Head over this junk 1 stars
9/17/07 Fast Cow i love this movie. natives rule....yay adam beach..... 5 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK Another film where the hero stands in plain sight killing millions of baddies. 3 stars
4/12/07 David Pollastrini a bit slow in places but still good. 4 stars
2/28/07 Mouse it sucks 1 stars
7/29/06 arvi excellent movie 5 stars
5/18/06 drydock54321 not the best. but ok 3 stars
11/20/05 Quigley the movie would have better if it wasn't so poorly cast. the navajos were the best 3 stars
10/03/05 Hawaiian Shoot me if I ever want to see another John Woo film again! Total waste of a great story 1 stars
8/23/05 ES Here's your 1st hint- directed by John Woo, 2nd- starring Nic Cage 1 stars
2/14/05 R.W. Welch May have the highest body count ever. A few good scenes. 3 stars
2/03/05 Dan Pretty Good actually, kind of hollywoodish, but what do you expect in a Woo Film? 4 stars
1/17/05 Landshark Adam Beach & Roger Willie characters not given development, just orders...*YAWN* 2 stars
12/10/04 Steve Newman Disappointed that the "Windtalker" story was not enhanced. War scenes great 4 stars
8/23/04 albert very good woo 4 stars
7/01/04 "Meth Lab" for Dummies. Not a bad flick... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/09/04 Derek Denfeld I loved the movie. the graphics were soo awesome. i think yazee was the best character 5 stars
1/11/04 The Wizard of Flix Cage thinking Oscar again but only succeeding in presenting himself as Hamlet in a High S 2 stars
11/29/03 john inept! John Woo made his good movies in Hong Kong 1 stars
11/28/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) It's OK, but the war scenes are never very powerful. Not up to John Woo par. 3 stars
6/26/03 cochese dissapointingly horrible. 1 stars
6/25/03 J Really cool! 4 stars
6/04/03 Picky critic Great idea for a movie, but everything-especially the fighting scenes--seems very contrived 1 stars
6/03/03 liz we watched it in class and one girl kept on freking 5 stars
6/02/03 Charles Tatum Woo overdirects a corny underwritten script 2 stars
5/16/03 mr. Pink clichèd and Cage's bad. But Woo sometimes excites with his orchestra of violence 3 stars
4/23/03 Andrew Carden Underrated, Misunderstood Drama With Fantastic Performances. 5 stars
4/08/03 Vince kickass explosions and people getting fucked up. no story. 4 stars
2/19/03 Ian Jesus. So poor I could weep. 1 stars
12/23/02 Ryback Good, but not great, liked the music and slow motion 4 stars
11/09/02 Bob Nesbitt Very predictable-seen the same plot in hundreds of war films. 3 stars
10/22/02 cinkcool Good. 4 stars
9/24/02 Carly All Woo knows how to do is blow up things. How about talking about the Windtalkers more. 2 stars
8/29/02 Edith the Maid and Meredith the Mermaid Improtant story, sloppily told 4 stars
8/29/02 Dean expected sooo much more. My mistake 1 stars
8/28/02 viking Better than Pearl Harbour, but a long way behind Saving Private Ryan 3 stars
8/18/02 Mr. Hat (I'm Back!) Another great John Woo movie. 4 stars
8/18/02 stryper rocks Too many gasoline-enhanced explosions. How about developing the Navajo characters more? 3 stars
8/17/02 brainiac adam beach & george willie great; war gore, slater's harmonica & oconnor's role bad... 2 stars
7/04/02 malcolm once again, Woo shows American filmmakers how it's done 4 stars
6/21/02 spaceworm Too loud to hear any talking; lots of wind, where a gentle breeze would do. 3 stars
6/18/02 thejames not the most complex plot but one of the more ENTERTAINING ww2 movies in recent years. 4 stars
6/17/02 Charles Goin Not your typical war movie and that point seems to have been missed by far too many. 5 stars
6/17/02 Todd A slap in the face of all WW2 vets. 2 stars
6/16/02 Waste of money A one dimensional, cliche ridden, corny crapfest! 1 stars
6/16/02 "Yes the shit." A very poor movie. Action sequences sometimes makes no sense. What a waste. 2 stars
6/16/02 Anarchy Azmi nothing but a lot of japanese dying everywhere 3 stars
6/15/02 Nick2k i liked it...but i'm getting bored with war flicks, mr. & mrs. hollywood.... 4 stars
6/12/02 S M I could not watch a lot of this movie because of the graphic violence. I was horrified to 3 stars
6/11/02 Crystrial Murphy I loved the Native actors. The action graphics were extremely surprising. 4 stars
6/06/02 Jaydeep I love most John Woo flicks, but this one really disappointed me. 3 stars
6/06/02 Kris Bates Masterpiece 5 stars
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  14-Jun-2002 (R)
  DVD: 25-Apr-2006



Directed by
  John Woo

Written by
  John Rice
  Joe Batteer

  Nicolas Cage
  Kevin Cooney
  Noah Emmerich
  Christian Slater
  Peter Stormare
  Adam Beach

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