Year: 2002
Director: John Woo
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Adam Beach, Frances O'Connor
It was always going to be interesting to see how John Woo handled a serious World War 2 movie in the vein of Saving Private Ryan. Known as he is for such stylised, ballet-like violence that we see in all his films, would the ultra-cool gloss over the gruesome reality so much that it would end up a Jerry Bruckheimer action blockbuster?

Windtalkers edges into that territory, but only just - not enough to let you dismiss it as Hollywood flash trash.

The violence is highly choreographed and stylised, but still gritty and unsexy enough to take seriously.

The story tells of the GIs who took the island of Saipan from the Japanese. Nicolas Cage is a wounded, bitter GI still hurt (here's the Hollywood-ishness) after losing his entire platoon by following orders and staying put.

Thrown back into action, he's a bit of a lone wolf, and so not at all impressed when he's assigned by the brass to partner the army's new secret weapon - a Navajo Indian. Based on the real Native American soldiers used in WWII to relay signals in their own language (the Japanese had cracked every other code), the soldier he's assigned to (Beach) is young, dumb and idealistic.

The usual redemption and realisation of the worth of a human life is attained among some sweeping and well crafted battle sequences, and while he doesn't reach the hallowed halls that Spielberg, Malick and his forerunners did, Woo (as always) provides an entertaining few hours - with just enough of a serious message.

Cage (who shows as wide a range as any actor in Hollywood today) doesn't really have to try here, he just broods, and Beach is good as the overeager youngblood.

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