Rescue Dawn


Rescue Dawn (2007)


Critic 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.


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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 (46)

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

Oct 18, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

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…

But just as exciting -- maybe even more so, for those who love the medium and, especially, the uplift of the great-escape genre -- Rescue Dawn is a triumphant Werner Herzog movie.

Aug 20, 2007 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Herzog builds this movie around another strong, eccentric performance from Bale, who is gaining a reputation for outsized talent and for downsized physicality.

Aug 13, 2007 | Full Review…

Although the film delivers the expected action and efficiently jacks up the suspense, longtime devotees of the director will undoubtedly miss the visionary qualities that have long distinguished his work.

Jul 28, 2007 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

It's easy to understand why Herzog was driven to tell this story twice.

Jul 27, 2007 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for Rescue Dawn

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 roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer


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
Christian C

Super Reviewer


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.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

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