Woo’s Windtalkers not up to par

If you go into Windtalkers expecting to see a war movie that is up to the standards of Saving Private Ryan or Apocalypse Now, you won’t find it. However, you won’t find the over-the-top-John-Woo-directing of Broken Arrow or Face/Off either.

Somewhere in between lies this well-acted, but over-dramatized, portrayal of the Navajo code-talkers during WWII. Despite the best efforts of Nicholas Cage and Adam Beach, the weak dialogue rears its ugly head at key moments of the film with lines like, “It won’t bring your friends back,” and “We did it, Joe!”

Speaking of ruining powerful moments, whose idea was it to have music underscoring the battle scenes? The music that swells while the Marines are fighting off the Japanese is reminiscent of the music heard in the background of Back to the Future when Marty realizes that if he doesn’t get his parents to kiss at the “Enchantment Under the Sea” dance, then he won’t exist in the future.

Another constant irritation was the stock characters. Because the movie deals with the race issue between the Navajo and the rest of the soldiers, there is the mandatory racist who makes fun of the “injuns.” Then there’s the soldier with a wife at home, the ethnic soldier (usually Italian, but this time, just for variety, he is Greek) and a plethora of other characters that audiences have seen a million times before.

The only thing that makes this war movie different than any other war movie is the premise. The story of the Navajo code-talkers is one that many people were unaware of. Now it would be hard to find someone who doesn’t know about it. However, even with a unique premise, the plot is recycled and unimaginative. Not to mention the fact that the time spent focusing on the code itself or the transmission of coded messages is minimal.

Basically, what you’ve got is the same old war movie with a couple of Navajos thrown in to spice things up. So if you’re tired of war movies, don’t bother, but if you want to see things blown up and don’t mind some flat characters, Windtalkers will fit the bill nicely.