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Monday, June 6, 2011

Rescue Dawn - Werner Herzog Christian Bale Vietnam Prison Movie Review

The rescue dawn is a Vietnam War film based on the capture, imprisonment and escape of American air force pilot Deiter Dengler.

The film is a predictable POW Vietnam war film. A pilot is shot down, attempts to avoid capture, is captured, told to denounce his country (which he doesn't), is tortured and imprisoned in deplorable conditions.  Then, of course, there is the escape. Because it is the same formula, the film really needs that extra effort by the performers and a few surprises along the way.  (As a side note, there is much debate about the authenticity of the film, so for anyone to excuse the film's predictability because it is 'the truth' should be aware that much of the 'facts' in the movie are in dispute)

Christian Bale (Batman, The Fighter) plays Deiter Dengler, the captured US pilot.  His acting is sound and he does go the extra mile by losing a ton of weight to play a more convincing, depraved prisoner of war. Bale plays the formula war hero. Likable, charismatic, unflappable, selfless soldier who makes the best of the situation. Bale plays such a seen-before character that he never really has the chance to achieve any great level of performance. A nice job, but not extraordinary.

Jeremy Davis, plays Gene (aka Eugene Henry), another prisoner of war. Davis, who played Charles Manson just two years prior in the made for TV movie "Helter Skelter" never seems to leave the Manson character.  He looks just like a young Charles Manson and acts just like Manson throughout the film. His intention was to play a character losing his mind from years of imprisonment but he merely copies his "Helter Skelter" performance.  It is disappointing that Werner Herzog could be so oblivious  to the copy cat performance, and appearance. Davis wears the same hair style and nearly the same facial hair as Manson. Couldn't have Herzog suggested a different but equally destitute hair style?

Come to think of it, there was another POW-fail in this film too. There was an Asian prisoner of war in the camp that was quite big compared to the others.  Was he slipping out to Outback for steak dinners while the others ate bugs and rice?

I can not say I hated the film, I just couldn't find anything that would redeem it above mediocrity. It didn't help either that there is at least one Internet site that denounces the movie as completely untrue and offensive to the Dengler family and former prisoners of war.

For the die-hard POW war film lovers out there, I'd say check it out sometime. For the rest of us, I wouldn't put this too high on your NetFlix queue.


Rated PG-13

2 Hours 6 Minutes

Please Check Out These other Great Reviews By TurtleDog

Is Rescue Dawn True? Some Doubt it, Highly

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