Released in 2002 ▪ Review posted October 27, 2014
“I like doves. They look so beautiful, like a woman. For me they represent peace and love and purity. And sometimes they’re seen as the messengers of God, so they’re important to me because I’m a Christian.”
John Woo, director
Windtalkers can’t decide what kind of terrible movie it is. It shifts back and forth from a John Woo action thriller, to a poorly written apology to Native Americans, to a story about an odd couple learning the meaning of friendship, to a propaganda film, borrowing hackneyed dialogue and derivative plot points along the way in its attempt to tell the story of the Navajo men who were drafted as “code talkers” in World War II.
Somehow, the drama inherent in the United States government asking for help from a people it would have preferred to exterminate was not enough for Hollywood. Instead of telling the story as advertised, the movie instead focuses on white-ass Nic Cage and his Apocalypse Now–flavored PTSD problems. As if this movie weren’t bloated enough, there’s also a terrible love story crammed in. Ultimately, Windtalkers’s greatest crime is ignoring the opportunity to pay respect to the Navajo and their role in winning the war and instead just exploiting them some more.
Nicolas Cage is good but that isn’t surprising. We know Cage can play a mentally damaged soldier if given a meatier role written by and for an adult. The drivel served up by Joe Batteer and John Rice presents no challenge for Cage. I believe his character, I feel the struggle. I just don’t buy the focus of the screenplay or how tastelessly it was written. So yeah, Nic does a great job in Windtalkers. I do a great job cleaning out a litter box.
It’s interesting to note that Windtalkers is another film cast by the indomitable Mindy Marin. It’s a rare failure for her. First off, I always have a hard time believing Cage as a war hero. I think casting him as one has been a repeated misuse of his talent. Marin also missed the mark with Peter Stormare. I love Peter Stormare and think there is rarely a time when he isn’t wonderful to see on screen. But he has a thick Swedish accent, which sounds to the untrained ear a lot like a German accent, and he’s supposed to be an American in a WWII movie. It’s pretty disorienting.
Windtalkers is a terrible movie that you should actively avoid. It’s disrespectful to the Navajo, the Japanese, and cinephiles alike. There should have been less windtalking and more windshutupping.
- How was the movie?
- How was Nic Cage’s acting?
- Did his performance make the movie worse?