Rescue Dawn Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 8, 2014
Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn is a stunning war drama with some impressive performances from its cast. This is a superb film that is tense, thrilling and highly memorable from start to finish. The story is engaging from start to finish, and it's a surprising film with plenty to enjoy. Werner Herzog is more famous for directing documentaries, however here he crafts a stunning film based on facts, and he proves that he is able to make something truly engaging here that equals his documentaries. I found this to be a standout Vietnam War film, one that was quite different as well because it's a story about survival against strong odds. The story is well layered and thoroughly engaging and you are just sucked into the film's story. There has been criticism about Christian Bale's casting, but I thought he was good in the role and he had some good range that he would showcase in many other dramatic roles. Rescue Dawn succeeds on many levels, and if you enjoy the genre, this is a film well worth your time. The film blends effective action with tense dramatic moments and in turn it really makes the film that much better. With standout direction and a great story, Rescue Dawn is a war film that manages to standout among others because it feels very personal because it follows the journey of one man in order to survive his ordeal as a POW to his escape and rescue. This is a must watch for genre fans, and I feel that Bale deserves more praise than what he got. With a fine blend of drama and war, this film succeeds at being a unique and memorable viewing experience.
Super Reviewer
½ May 14, 2013
Excellent performances by Bale and Zahn. (I know...Zahn! Who knew?) It's a fascinating history lesson with a compelling story and strong character development.
Super Reviewer
½ June 30, 2007
Christian Bale stars in this true life story of Dieter Dengler, a German born American pilot who was shot down during a classified mission over Laos and was later interned at and escaped from a Vietcong prisoner of war camp. All the usual prisoner of war ingredients are here and once again Bale proves his willingness to suffer for his art, genuinely undergoing many of the harrowing ordeals Dengler went through, including water torture, eating maggots and wrestling with leeches and poisonous snakes. The documentary approach gives the film a genuine credibility but I also found it a little dry, as I didn't really feel any emotional attachment to the characters. It's certainly a well made and interesting film though, and Herzog skillfully side steps the usual flag waving histrionics that would probably have resulted from an American director's involvement, at least until the rather overly feelgood ending. It's beautifully photographed and Steve Zahn is suitable harrowed as his escape companion, but once again it's Christian Bale's performance that makes the film. A good, solid prisoner of war film although it may be a little uneventful for some tastes.
Super Reviewer
September 12, 2012
I may not be one for war films, but when they have twists and go in directions such as this film did, then it will have me hooked until the end, and let me say, was I ever hooked! Christian Bale plays Dieter Dengler in this true story about a fighter pilot who crash lands in Vietnam, just before the start of the war, and once he meets others who have crash landed, he notices they have been there for years and years. The escape plan is brilliant and the survival portion of the film is heart-poundingly real. The film is very well paced and the dialogue goes by at a mile a minute, even if it's the subtle moments when the characters are in whisper mode. The entire film you are just hoping for nobody to be watching them as they flee. "Rescue Dawn" is the type of film that I could watch over and over again! It's fantastic!
Super Reviewer
½ December 2, 2007
this is a really great film. it was incredibly slow from start to finish, but its the first film ive seen in a while that was better for being slow. if the pace of this film was sped up at all i think it would have missed something. the characters were represented well and steve zahn elevated himself to another caliber of acting in my mind with his performance.
Super Reviewer
August 7, 2010
One of the best escape scenes I've ever seen. An excellent movie. I recommend it.
Super Reviewer
½ August 24, 2008
What a ffing waste of time! The acting makes me want to eat my own hand. And I'm not sorry about not having seen the other half of it.
Super Reviewer
½ July 21, 2010
Super Reviewer
½ November 19, 2009
A compelling war story and extremely well made. Christian Bale gave a great performance and proved his commitment to the physical and mental embodiment of a character. Jeremy Davies was also really good, he was extremely bizarre. It had a great script and visually stunning background. It is a strong message regarding survival and honor.
Super Reviewer
August 1, 2009
This film is based on the true story of Air Force pilot Dieter Dengler(Christian Bale) who is shot down and captured by Vietcong guerrillas in Laos on his first mission to Vietnam. Bale's portrayal of the headstrong pilot is very well done.
This film is pretty dim as it shows emaciated, traumatized war prisoners doing their best to stay alive. Jeremy Davies's character portrayal is haunting as one of the prisoners who's been there for a couple of years surviving on next to nothing, and Steve Zaughn's character is the opposite of what you normally see him portray. Definately a film meant to tell an important, real horror story, and a representative of the heroes from the Vietnam war.
Super Reviewer
September 28, 2007
Well to be honest this is a well made film with great performances, even from Zahn, but its very dull for most of the film. The look is authentic and the feel is very cold, hungry, dirty and bleak. you feel the pilots anguish. But it doesn't really get going until they break out of their captors camp prison. From then on its very tense and you can really feel the hunger pains with the actors. As they scream at passing choppers which fly by not seeing them you just wanna scream for them, see me please. Its not as good as some war films but its very accurate and basic in its approach, which gives it a realistic harsh feel. The pilot sequences at the start are abit dodgy looking, very bluescreen and the ending is very 'god bless America' in Hollywood fashion. They all seem to forget the other prisoners which didn't make it. Its a good flick, worth seeing, not bloody or nasty but very good at portraying the human will to survive.
Super Reviewer
½ July 4, 2007
The fact that this is a little mainstream is not a problem. It's weird that it's mainstream, but it still has the unmistakable touches that can be found in the rest of Herzog's work. My rating my be just a tad higher than it probably should be, because the film is a little uneven and rough, but it's still damn entertaining (and at times very gripping). The ending may seem a little Hollywood, but that's actually how the real life story ended. This film fits somewhere in the middle of Herzog's filmography: not excellent, but not terrible. Outside of that category, it ranks a little higher. Bale as usual is excellent, but then again, isn't he almost always anyway? The real treat in the acting department is Steve Zahn. The guy proves he has some real chops. Despite the rating being what I gave it, gradewise it's an extremely high B+.
Super Reviewer
½ May 20, 2009
I found it odd that this "prison" film doesn't really break any new ground; as I would have expected from Werner.
There is an odd disconnect between the captives and the guards - which I believe to be a tool, along with the language barrier, to make you feel as cast adrift as Bale's charactor.
Odd and quirky performances abound, though I found Bale not nearly as convincing as in The Mechanic - he's just too hell bound optomistic and grounded, cheerfully imbibing magots to get protein.

There are some gems here, including the escape plan itself, and how Bale uses nails and other tidbits to fashion tools - but what should have passed as the heroic humanity wins over all, ends up somehow flat. The CIA getting a kind of deus ex machina in the pentultimate scenes is bizarre and unnecessary, except as a commentary about covert ops in general. The "escape" from their grasps is laughingly juvinile, and the ending celebration back aboard the air craft carrier is just plaid odd - leaving me feeling hollow instead of uplifted - but perhaps that was Werner's point...
Super Reviewer
½ April 27, 2009
This is a cracking true story with some really good performances from Bale and even better Zahn.The story telling is done really well and the use of locations are so beauiful that its helps with the running of the story.Details are top notch and with a budget of 10 million this as a big budget feel to it.
I can not recommaned this more highly and wish i saw this gem alot sooner.
Super Reviewer
½ November 4, 2007
FANTASTIC film really really good and christian bale was fantastic and the storyline was excellent and really heart warming with some uplifting humour and action really really worth a watch
Super Reviewer
½ April 16, 2007
Rescue Dawn was good, but it was nothing to fill your socks with oatmeal over. Christian Bale does his usual amazing job acting and oddly enough Steve Zahn seemed to feed off of it. This was the first Herzog movie I've seen but I like his style and he makes a beautiful movie. About as exciting as you'd expect from a prisoner of war movie but the prison film aspect of Rescue Dawn seems to benefit more. I did get a tad misty when Bale was rescued but the small remainder was too cliched for my tastes. I wouldn't tell anyone to avoid this movie as it is good and worth seeing, but at the same time I wouldn't stick it on the top of a must see list either.
Super Reviewer
April 8, 2009
An American fighter pilot is shot down during the start of the Vietnam Conflict, this movie follows the true story of that man, showing his harsh struggles in a vietnam prison camp as well as his escape to freedom through the ruthless jungles...

This movie is an action packed, emotional struggle, but more important is the truth behind it showing not only the individual struggle of this paticular man - but that of many veterns not only in the vietnam war, but even today.

The directors do a great job, Christian Bale delivers a perfect performance, and what I really loved about this film is even with all the controversy surrounding what happend in vietnam - the directors didnt hold nothing back. We like to investigate what american soldiers wrongly done to vietnam citizens, but its rarley shown what they done to us, and this movie has balls to disect and show that on the big screen.

This movie should be an instant classic with a great soundtrack and a perfect story for the ages.
Super Reviewer
½ December 17, 2008
A pretty nitty and gritty POW movie, but I feel it has'tbeen pushed to the limits. But I guess since its based on a true story, fact is stranger than fiction... or Ive watched too many vietnam war movies and expected more.

Anyways, Bale plays a cocky young pilot, who on his first mission, is shot down and captured by the Viet cong. though he doesn't realise the full extent of his predicament until he is cast into an obscure prison camp with other pilots and political prisoners and realises that even if he manages to escape, how will he survive against the impassable Asian jungles? Which pretty much nearly drives him insane.

I guess it really hinged on Bale and Zahn's performance, as the mentally unstable prisoners... though the scenery and landscape does look healthy and the green is eye catching, but don't be fooled, the place is a death trap unless you know how to survive.

The only thing which annoyed me is the constant whispering... and the director decided to make it more story telling and doesn't reall instill any particular emotion in the film except for a couple pivotal moments... but this is a genre which could have taken advantage of thrills and more drama, but to me, it was just and open and shut story.

I guess what the director was trying to do was hinge on the performance of his stars, hence why the mental and emotional element was so strong in the movie, but a war movie is not essentially meant to be a study of the human mind... well they aren't really recognised for that. I mean, take First Blood for instance, the movie became famous for its over the top action and violence, but people tend to forget, unless you read the book, its a story of emotional and mental drama of a vietnam vet who was pushed too far to the limit to breaking point to which he responds with the only thing he has - his deadly skills. Its not that Im saying this should have been an all out action extravaganza, but it should have been more like Tom Hanks' "Cast Away" which was superb and engaged the viewer on all levels, and it was a "survivor" movie, and Rescue Dawn should have followed its' leading, but doesn't quite get it.

Anyways, its a good movie for Bale fans to enjoy his performance, but its not really a great war movie or survivor movie,
Super Reviewer
July 10, 2008
On some levels it is your average POW escape film, where we see the human mind triumpth in theface of adversity. Bale and Zahn are both spectacular in their roles. The real stor here (for the majority of the film anyway) is the wonderful friendship that is built. It takes its time and is also laced with plenty of humour. Herzog hands in his most commercial film but it is still striking, especially when it comes down to photography and music. Herzog relishes in those subtle moments missing from more action orientated war films. Bale chewing on a snake, leaves curling up as they are brushed, the slight smiles of a vietnamese woman. I have a weak spot for POW movies as it is, but when infused with a true enthusiasm of the nature that surrounds the events of a film it is truly sublime.
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