Rescue Dawn was a fairly small film released earlier this year, with a small opening of just over 500 theaters. It grossed about six million worldwide, and went by without any real notice from the general public. Critics, however, have been raving. I finally picked up the DVD, which came out a few weeks ago, and gave it a viewing.
The first 45 minutes to an hour are fairly uneventful, and bored me quite a bit. Aside from learning about the characters, not much else happens. You’re probably confused, and since you’ve never heard of this movie, let me explain:
Rescue Dawn is based-on-a-true-story of Lt. Dieter Dengler, who’s a Navy pilot, in 1965 Vietnam. He’s shot down, and eventually captured, while on a top secret mission. He’s then taken to a P.O.W. camp, and held prisoner with a variety of other United States Army and Navy people. Dengler decides he wants to escape, after hearing that the others have been there for 2+ years, or more. They formulate a plot, and proceed to escape.
So, as I was saying, the first hour of the movie is them plotting the plan out, more or less. Getting free at night, to roam around and plan things, and observe the “camp.” It gets rather uninteresting, until they begin their escape.
The most amazing part of this movie, is not only Bale’s performance, but those performances of his castmates. Specifically Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies. Who would have thought that Steve Zahn could pull off a role where he wasn’t the “funny man?” I certainly didn’t, but he certainly did. The on-screen chemistry of Bale and Zahn is fantastic. In most scenes their dialogue isn’t louder than a whisper, but you’d never know it. Their lines are delivered powerfully, and emotionally, but quietly. These men put on performances that make you think they’re really held captive, and fighting for their lives.
When Bale’s Dengler is first brought to the P.O.W. camp, he’s tortured for a few days, before being thrown in with the others. The acts of torture they perform on him are vicious. Watching the movie, I’m convinced that Bale did these stunts himself. There was no camera trickery to make the stuntman look like Bale. The shots of him being submerged in a tank of water, and being pulled behind a bull are too close up, to have been a double. Bale seems to have toughed it out, like the champ he is. After all, he is Batman.
While the first hour of the movie bored me, the second hour surely did not. This story is so touching, you feel for this guy. You want him to survive, and make it back home. And what’s the first thing he asks, once he wakes up at a hospital? “When can I go back to my ship?” All he wants to do, is go back and fight some more. Talk about a hero.
I really enjoyed this movie. The story, the characters, and the acting were all top notch. Be warned though, don’t go into this movie expecting a war movie like Saving Private Ryan, or Black Hawk Down, this is anything but. This is a story of survival. This is a story of hope.
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