The Great Raid, directed by John Dahl, is a war drama based on true events that took place during World War II. It takes place in the Philippines, where over 500 American soldiers were being held as prisoners of war by the Japanese. The film goes back and forth between what was happening with the prisoners (absolutely horrible and inhumane treatment), what was happening with a woman who was helping smuggle drugs into the camp, and the happenings and planning of the American military as it thought out one of the best rescue operations in our country’s history.
Wow. This movie was a fantastic surprise for me. I’ve watched many war movies in my day but this one ranks right up there with some of the great ones. I was previously unaware of this part of our World War II history. John Dahl knows just how to grab the audience attention while we live through the final five days of this rescue mission. Seeing the prisoners and the starvation, punishment, torture and death of these Americans was gruesome at times, but necessary to show what really took place. Even in the midst of all the fighting and suffering, is romance and a love story. The film follows Margaret Utinsky (Connie Nielsen) as she works in Philipine hospitals to sneak medication out and into the hands of prisoners suffering from Malaria and other illnesses in the camp. She has a love interest that’s a soldier in the camp, and the movie takes us through the feeling that each person is going through. Although there were some slow parts in the middle, the movie moves quickly from the hospital, to the prisoners and to the soldiers as they get closer and closer to their objective. The film brings us to the final 45 minutes, climaxing with tremendous battle scenes and promises to keep you on the edge of your seat as the rescue takes place.
I was not familiar with most of the actors in the movie, but I don’t think there was one weak spot. Benjamin Bratt does an outstanding job as Lt. Col. Henry Mucci and James Franco shines as Capt. Prince, both in charge of leading the raid. Connie Nielsen, Joseph Fiennes and Marton Csokas should all be applauded for their heartfelt performances.
If you enjoy history, war flicks or just need a good dramatic movie to get your surround sound cranked up and make the neighbors think they are being invaded, you have got to rent this one. By the way, the movie is based on a book that you might want to check out, titled The Great Raid on Caban.
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