The Great Raid

Year: 2005
Studio: Miramax
Director: John Dahl
Writer: Carlo Bernard/Doug Miro
Cast: Benjamin Bratt, Joseph Fiennes, James Franco, Connie Nielsen, Natalie Mendoza, Robert Mammone, Craig McLachlan, Sam Worthington, Marton Csokas, Logan Marshall-Green

This isn't the kind of movie I'd ordinarily watch by choice – from the get go it telegraphs the tone (we're not all coming back, American ingenuity and determination in the face of overwhelming odds, no Ranger left behind, etc), but there are a few halfway decent war movie set pieces, most of it's plodding and colour by numbers.

The TL;DR version is the rescue of 500 POWs in a Japanese camp deep in enemy territory in the Philippines towards the end of the war. Like we saw in Unbreakable, the most dangerous time to be a prisoner of war seems to be when your captors are on the verge of defeat, so it's up to the army ranger squadron to get in before the brutal Japanese overlords realise the jig is up and start slaughtering everyone.

Shot mostly in Queensland there are a few Australian faces but mostly the cast are some big American names, many of them like James Franco in their very early days.

The story is comprised of a few different tracks along with the planning and execution of the raid, including a romantic subterfuge subplot about the local resistance.

The critical reception was mostly poor, which makes me wonder what people were expecting. John Dahl (the excellent Roadkill) wrangles a thrilling tone and some good scenes, all of it more than competently shot and acted.

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