Rescue Dawn


Rescue Dawn

Critics Consensus

Director Werner Herzog has once again made a compelling tale of man versus nature, and Christian Bale completely immerses himself in the role of fighter pilot (and prisoner of war) Dieter Dengler.



Total Count: 163


Audience Score

User Ratings: 125,710
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Movie Info

In the annals of history's great escapes there is no other story like that of Dieter Dengler, the only American to ever break out of a POW camp in the impenetrable Laotian jungle. After months plotting his getaway from a harrowing prison and a death-defying journey through some of the world's fiercest wilderness, Dengler appeared at his first press conference looking like a dashing movie star and showing neither sentimentality nor bitterness - simply an indomitable will to survive that allowed him to triumph against impossible odds.

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Critic Reviews for Rescue Dawn

All Critics (163) | Top Critics (51)

  • Rescue Dawn may not feel much like a Herzog movie, but it's a gripping real-life thriller.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Full Review…

    Bob Mondello
    Top Critic
  • What we miss is the real Herzogian touch that can translate tales of derringdo into something more than mere adventure and stir the soul as well as the heart and mind.

    Nov 23, 2007 | Rating: 3/5
  • An effective, unassuming and old-fashioned action adventure which is - perhaps a little faute de mieux - probably the best film of the week.

    Nov 23, 2007 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The performances are worryingly Method. Bale eats bowls of maggots. I had to look away when he tucked into a live snake.

    Nov 23, 2007 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • A quirky first half of torture, starvation and, um, stinky farts gives way to crazed jungle fever as Dengler leads a great escape into the heart of darkness.

    Nov 23, 2007 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Jamie Russell
    Top Critic
  • Herzog tells the story with a minimum of directorial flourish, relying instead on Bale's extraordinary ability to remain concentrated.

    Nov 23, 2007 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Rescue Dawn

  • May 27, 2017
    *SPOILER ALERT* a slow burner, it started off with the usual christian bale dodgy acting and a cheap looking plane crash. it somewhat improved during the P.O.W. camp mid-section. NOTE: drink coffee to stay awake. the eventual escape and final act though was immense. focused purely on survival i found myself wanting it to go on. i could've watched that bit only expanded into a whole film in itself. the beautiful location it was shot in helped and well... the positives more than outweighed the negatives.
    Sanity Assassin ! Super Reviewer
  • May 30, 2015
    Inspired by true events, Rescue Dawn is a harrowing tale of survival. The story follows Navy pilot Dieter Dengler who's shot down in Laos during the Vietnam War and is imprisoned in a Viet Cong internment camp until he and his fellow POWs attempt a daring escape. Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, and Jeremy Davies all give incredible performances. And, writer/director Werner Herzog does an impressive job at bringing a gritty realism to the film. However, the pacing is kind of slow, and the narrative is weak and hard to follow at times. Yet despite its problems, Rescue Dawn delivers a compelling tale of heroism.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 08, 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.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • 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.
    Christian C Super Reviewer

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