Windtalkers - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Windtalkers Reviews

Page 2 of 114
November 12, 2014
Nicolas Cage, Cristian Slater and Mark Ruffalo head a wonderful cast. I thought the story of The Navajo Indian soldiers who use code talk to save their fellow soldiers during World War 2 was well done.
September 6, 2014
This movie may have broken some kind of record for the most explosions committed to film. However, with all the crazy and exciting action sequences, this movie just didn't have the heart or the eloquence that Woo's other movies had. Its also really hard to side with any of this characters.
July 29, 2014
A bad war movie. I give it that.
½ July 24, 2014
A pretty decent war movie
July 14, 2014
The world definitely did not need another war flick, no matter what conflict they are set in, but "Windtalkers" had an unusual story to tell that should have set it apart. Not much was known about the Navajo Code Talkers who helped secure an unbreakable means of communication for soldiers during World War II, and frankly, their story deserved a better treatment than this silly, melodramatic movie.

In fact, the American Indian's unique life-savinf device only comes into play three times during this two and a half hour film. The rest of this disappointing picture is filled with ridiculous war movie cliches and far-too-many poorly filmed battle sequences. John Woo is a terrific action film director, but this should have been a much more serious rumination on the horrors of war and the bravery of these newly appointed soldiers. Instead Woo draws on his action film background.

The battle scenes are bloody but have no emotional impact, and the overuse of slow motion that plagued the filmmaker's earlier films are even more distressing here. These scenes would feel more at home in a Chuck Norris "Missing in Action" picture that a serious drama.

As an actor, Nicolas Cage runs the gamut from great performances to just plain silly ones, and unfortunately, he does not give a great performance here. It's embarrassingly overwrought and borderline amusing. "Windtalkers" had an original story to tell, but what we actually get is far more conventional. These heroes deserved better.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ June 30, 2014
"I talk to the wind; my words are all carried away!" You know what, this is kind of a silly title, befitting a kind of silly war drama, and sure enough, this film is so silly that it stars Nicolas Cage. Well, maybe the film itself isn't terribly bonkers, but as crazy as Cage is, I'm sure he would talk to the wind for help, and quite frankly, I can understand, because considering that this is a John Woo film, some doves might actually come and help me. For those of you who think that doves helping soldiers in combat is totally ridiculous, you clearly weren't paying attention when I said that this is a John Woo film, because it wouldn't be the craziest thing to happen in one of his films. Oh, well, he is trying to take a project like this a little more seriously, not because it deals with subject matter as serious as war, but because he wants to use this as a reminder of the differences between the Chinese and Japanese. Well, he must have gone a little overboard at some point, because violence in this film had to be trimmed down in order to avoid an NC-17 rating, which is good, because this film was losing enough money at the box office. Well, the news would be better if the film was better, because even though it is decent, it gets carried away with more than just the action.

Running about two hours and a quarter, or, in the case of the director's cut that no one pays attention to, a touch over two-and-a-half hours (Come on, people, it's not like the director's cut of "Pearl Harbor", where they put in a couple more seconds of violence; give John Woo's effort a little attention), the film boasts a healthy runtime, with which it gets a little carried away at times, even within a narrative concept that gets rather uneven with its shifting between various subplots and layers. The film simply gets carried away with its characterization, and yet, in a way, it's superficial with that characterization, drawing thin types who are sold by performances of decidedly greater inspiration, but pretty stereotypical and lacking in a dramatic narrative which is conceptually so rich. Characterization is not the only major dramatic factor which is handled superficially here, as the plot itself is pretty heavily played by melodramatics, contrived conflicts and story elements which John Woo bludgeons you with through a sentimental tone that ranges from reasonably effective to cloying. Histrionic, sentimental and even with a hint of fall-flat fluff, this film commits a great sin for war dramas by devolving to cheesiness, a reflection of overambitious bloating in storytelling which is, of course, exacerbated by all of the focal and pacing inconsistencies, and might be easier to forgive if this film didn't laze out in a certain, major area. There are aspects in this film which could have perhaps been genuinely refreshing, but in the end, when the plot itself doesn't follow formula, John Rice's and Joe Batteer's script lazes out with its dialogue and set pieces, almost as trite, but at least decidedly as profoundly clichéd, joining all of the aforementioned plotting tropes in establishing a nearly frustrating predictability. Now, whether it be because I'm a sucker for war dramas or whatever, I don't find that the film sputters out too far shy of rewarding, but, make no mistake, there is a betrayal of potential here, ironically through ambition, whose bloating meets a certain laziness in storytelling and ultimately drives the final product back as kind of underwhelming. Still, like I said, I don't find that the film is quite as great a misfire as many are saying, as it is plenty dramatically adequate, and stylistically proficient.

On a high following "Enemy at the Gates" upon working with this, his second modern war film, the great James Horner brings his trademark fusion of whimsy and modern classical intensity into a refreshing context with this score, even though, by its own right, it's hardly anything new, thus, it's easier to appreciate a musical artistry that is abused by sentimentality, but generally beautiful and sometimes effective in complimenting depths about as much as decent art direction by Kevin Ishioka which provide some memorable visuals, and help in drawing you into the war environment. The immersion value of the battlefield at least kicks in when the action kicks in, because even though subtlety issues and the superficiality of characterization limit the depths to the violence, resulting in a sense of gratuitousness to many disturbing visuals, one can understand why the action is the only receiving praise, as its remarkable technicality and tight staging tensely highlights John Woo's directorial abilities. Outside of the action, Woo sometimes goes so far as to fall flat, boasting an overt ambition which begets tonal superficiality and a lack of attention towards mending certain other storytelling hiccups, until the ambition finds genuine inspiration, of which there is only so much, but, in my opinion, enough to draw tension and deliver on a bit of emotional resonance, or at least keep pacing brisk. If nothing else can be said about this film, although its script drags its feet, Woo's directorial touches are plenty entertaining, enough to get you by until dramatic highlights are hit, bringing glimpses into a more realized interpretation of worthy subject matter. Although we're looking at trite and often misguided storytelling belonging to an underwhelming drama, this story seems to belong to a much more compelling pseudo-epic of a war opus, and although that largely leaves you to soak in how much potential is lost, it establishes a solid deal of immediate intrigue which Woo's performance often secures, and which the other performances consistently secure, to a certain extent, that is. Material is lacking for performers working with surprisingly superficial characters, and yet, if nothing else is getting the shaft among critics, it is the performances, if not the chemistry which I find to be solid across the board, particularly within a charismatic Adam Beach who sells a man struggling to hold onto his humanity and protect his new band of brothers more effectively than the writing, as well as within Nicolas Cage, who is playing Nicolas Cage, but in one of his better interpretations, complete with a charisma and emotional intensity which sell the guilt, passion and overall intense mindset of a soldier seeking, not simply to protect his country and brethren, but redeem himself for his mistakes. There's an almost unfittingly great deal of humanity within most all key performances, and were there more inspiration to storytelling, the film would have thoroughly rewarded, yet at things stand, in my opinion, the final product comes to the brink of rewarding on the back of value amidst flatness.

When the words are all carried away (Great, now I've got King Crimson stuck in my head), the film is left too overdrawn to keep consistent with focus, too superficial in its characterization and dramatics to keep consistent with resonance, and too generic for you to deny it all, thus, the final product falls short, but not as far short as many are saying, for James Horner's solid score, Kevin Ishioka's immersive art direction, John Woo's gripping action and moving dramatic highlights, and a cast full of underappreciated performances - particularly by Adam Beach and Nicolas Cage - carry enough inspiration to make "Windtalkers" a thoroughly entertaining and sometimes genuinely effective, if ultimately overblown war drama.

2.75/5 - Decent
June 22, 2014
Review In A Nutshell:

Windtalkers tells a World War 2 story of Joe Enders who is assigned to protect an American Indian marine as he is trained to use his native language to deliver and receive code transmissions during battle.

I came into this film with almost no expectations as I have never seen a John Woo film before. Sadly I was left disappointed with what was delivered to me as the film seems to show potential on its themes and ideas but fails to make them impacting or chronically interesting. The film touches on the racial tension between the white and Native Americans, with the former side feeling little comfort with their presence. The film essentially shows how ignorant and horrible the white Americans are to the Native Americans, even if they are on the same side and fighting for the same things. At first, I thought the concept was quite clever and interesting as the subject was definitely different when compared to other films with the same setting, but if only the writers and Woo could put all of their eggs in that basket and not spend too much time on the expected elements of the war film.

The film contains ideas that touch on morality and sense of purpose, which was primarily placed on our leading character, Joe, but was done in such a way that felt contrived. The film could have benefited if the entire story behind Joe was written out and changing its perspective on Ben instead; the film pushes us to sympathise for the character, but it becomes difficult when the film spends too much time going back and forth between the two leads, each one with something important to tell. The film is also so invested on its characters, that it forgets to even orient the audience on where they are and what their goal is, all that I knew when watching this was that they were in a Japanese island heading towards somewhere; that physical goal is almost blurred out throughout this film.

The film's dialogue was a major issue, as most of what was said was incredibly cliché and predictable. This was one of the reasons why I couldn't fully invest myself into the film's characters as it draws too much attention to itself and I end up feeling distant from the situation.

If there was something aside from the film's ambition that I could compliment, it would be the film's action sequences. These particular scenes are done quite well to create a sense of tension and thrill as its scope is quite large and there are enough variety on each major action sequence that it avoids feeling dull. Though it does have a few issues, these scenes lack a sense of connection with its characters as Woo seems to be more interested in having us be entertained by their actions rather than the individuals themselves. Woo also fails to have the two sides of the battle be clear, as the film doesn't follow the action in a cohesive way and the audience's sense of place is lost throughout the entire scene; scenes starting here then suddenly ending up somewhere else in the battlefield that I didn't even know that it existed or was important. There also is an abundance of explosions in these scenes; with most of them being too extravagant as why do all explosions seem to turn into a large ball of fire? The gunshots also seem to hit on point way too often with multiple moments coming off more as flukes rather than pure skill.

The film's photography, I felt for the most part was polarising. The film's tone is essentially dual, with one being quiet and contemplative while the other is bombastic and thrilling. The former side of the film features smooth steadicam camera work that provide sufficient movement to make scenes come off as "dynamic", though sadly it didn't work at all for me as most of it comes off as manipulative. It tries so hard to draw emotions up to the surface and feel "immersed" in its characters, and it got to a point where I felt a little frustrated when the camera pulls us in towards their faces in order to have the audience feel closer to the character. This wouldn't be too much of a bothersome if the acting and story were top quality, but sadly it doesn't even come close to that. The latter tone was handled more brilliantly, especially when comparing it to the former. The photography then switches to using a hand-held style approach which successfully brings us in the situation, feeling the tension and destruction that fills the atmosphere. Though I did have a problem with the film's use of slow motion as it was used way too often during battle sequences and by the time you see one during the third act, one can't help but feel annoyed or bored with the style; I don't mind the use of slow motion as long as it is done in an effective way, which actually adds something to the scene instead of just appearing to seem "cool".

The film's score was handled by James Horner, which was actually a surprise to me as this film had an underwhelming score, and a couple of his works are those that I consider amazing. As I said, his work for this film is disappointing as it comes off as manipulative and safe. It doesn't bring a tune that one would remember when reminiscing about the film, and most of it actually feels like it rides the line between hopeless and hopeful, it doesn't know exactly what it wants to say or do. Though Horner was able to incorporate sounds or tunes from the Native American culture, which I felt was a nice touch.

The acting in this film was for the most part disappointing. Nicolas Cage failed to show that he even cares about the role he is playing, with most of it seemingly breezing through. I think it wouldn't hurt the film too much, if he was playing a supporting player, but since he is playing the leading man and the most of the film's focus is on him, it brings the entire film down. Luckily, Adam Beach's presence prevents it from being a total disaster. He plays his character well, and achieved in having me at least remotely care for his character. Beach was the main reason the film's first two acts were bearable as he was able to avoid the cliché notes that could have easily destroyed the role's likability. His actions and emotions felt genuine, even during the times of conflict. I also just want to mention the great performances from both Christian Slater and Roger Willie, as they too were able to give off a sense of genuineness that was lacking in most of the film's characters. I wouldn't have actually minded if the film instead, explored on their characters' relationship instead of following Joe and Ben's.

Windtalkers is a film that seems to have good things going in all aspects of its creation, but is buried under the disappointing and lacking elements, making it a hard film to enjoy. I just hope that not all of Woo's films are as disappointing as this one.
June 22, 2014
Review In A Nutshell:

Windtalkers tells a World War 2 story of Joe Enders who is assigned to protect an American Indian marine as he is trained to use his native language to deliver and receive code transmissions during battle.

I came into this film with almost no expectations as I have never seen a John Woo film before. Sadly I was left disappointed with what was delivered to me as the film seems to show potential on its themes and ideas but fails to make them impacting or chronically interesting. The film touches on the racial tension between the white and Native Americans, with the former side feeling little comfort with their presence. The film essentially shows how ignorant and horrible the white Americans are to the Native Americans, even if they are on the same side and fighting for the same things. At first, I thought the concept was quite clever and interesting as the subject was definitely different when compared to other films with the same setting, but if only the writers and Woo could put all of their eggs in that basket and not spend too much time on the expected elements of the war film.

The film contains ideas that touch on morality and sense of purpose, which was primarily placed on our leading character, Joe, but was done in such a way that felt contrived. The film could have benefited if the entire story behind Joe was written out and changing its perspective on Ben instead; the film pushes us to sympathise for the character, but it becomes difficult when the film spends too much time going back and forth between the two leads, each one with something important to tell. The film is also so invested on its characters, that it forgets to even orient the audience on where they are and what their goal is, all that I knew when watching this was that they were in a Japanese island heading towards somewhere; that physical goal is almost blurred out throughout this film.

The film's dialogue was a major issue, as most of what was said was incredibly cliché and predictable. This was one of the reasons why I couldn't fully invest myself into the film's characters as it draws too much attention to itself and I end up feeling distant from the situation.

If there was something aside from the film's ambition that I could compliment, it would be the film's action sequences. These particular scenes are done quite well to create a sense of tension and thrill as its scope is quite large and there are enough variety on each major action sequence that it avoids feeling dull. Though it does have a few issues, these scenes lack a sense of connection with its characters as Woo seems to be more interested in having us be entertained by their actions rather than the individuals themselves. Woo also fails to have the two sides of the battle be clear, as the film doesn't follow the action in a cohesive way and the audience's sense of place is lost throughout the entire scene; scenes starting here then suddenly ending up somewhere else in the battlefield that I didn't even know that it existed or was important. There also is an abundance of explosions in these scenes; with most of them being too extravagant as why do all explosions seem to turn into a large ball of fire? The gunshots also seem to hit on point way too often with multiple moments coming off more as flukes rather than pure skill.

The film's photography, I felt for the most part was polarising. The film's tone is essentially dual, with one being quiet and contemplative while the other is bombastic and thrilling. The former side of the film features smooth steadicam camera work that provide sufficient movement to make scenes come off as "dynamic", though sadly it didn't work at all for me as most of it comes off as manipulative. It tries so hard to draw emotions up to the surface and feel "immersed" in its characters, and it got to a point where I felt a little frustrated when the camera pulls us in towards their faces in order to have the audience feel closer to the character. This wouldn't be too much of a bothersome if the acting and story were top quality, but sadly it doesn't even come close to that. The latter tone was handled more brilliantly, especially when comparing it to the former. The photography then switches to using a hand-held style approach which successfully brings us in the situation, feeling the tension and destruction that fills the atmosphere. Though I did have a problem with the film's use of slow motion as it was used way too often during battle sequences and by the time you see one during the third act, one can't help but feel annoyed or bored with the style; I don't mind the use of slow motion as long as it is done in an effective way, which actually adds something to the scene instead of just appearing to seem "cool".

The film's score was handled by James Horner, which was actually a surprise to me as this film had an underwhelming score, and a couple of his works are those that I consider amazing. As I said, his work for this film is disappointing as it comes off as manipulative and safe. It doesn't bring a tune that one would remember when reminiscing about the film, and most of it actually feels like it rides the line between hopeless and hopeful, it doesn't know exactly what it wants to say or do. Though Horner was able to incorporate sounds or tunes from the Native American culture, which I felt was a nice touch.

The acting in this film was for the most part disappointing. Nicolas Cage failed to show that he even cares about the role he is playing, with most of it seemingly breezing through. I think it wouldn't hurt the film too much, if he was playing a supporting player, but since he is playing the leading man and the most of the film's focus is on him, it brings the entire film down. Luckily, Adam Beach's presence prevents it from being a total disaster. He plays his character well, and achieved in having me at least remotely care for his character. Beach was the main reason the film's first two acts were bearable as he was able to avoid the cliché notes that could have easily destroyed the role's likability. His actions and emotions felt genuine, even during the times of conflict. I also just want to mention the great performances from both Christian Slater and Roger Willie, as they too were able to give off a sense of genuineness that was lacking in most of the film's characters. I wouldn't have actually minded if the film instead, explored on their characters' relationship instead of following Joe and Ben's.

Windtalkers is a film that seems to have good things going in all aspects of its creation, but is buried under the disappointing and lacking elements, making it a hard film to enjoy. I just hope that not all of Woo's films are as disappointing as this one.
June 12, 2014
Adam Beach did a good job in a good movie, Flags of our Fathers, but Windtalkers was a waist of time. But what can you expect because it was directed by John Woo, the director of Mission Impossable! So you get what you expect, there is no thought in it, just the killing of mindless Japanese soldiers, huge explosions and bad acting. The Japanese soldiers just run around to be shot up by the American heros, but at the same time they tried to make it anti war. But all they did was make war look easy, fun, and exciting. The scene were Adam Beach dresses up as a Japanese soldiers to use the radio! Is this a joke this isn't the 1960s where all movie had it this is the 21st century! And it features the most obvious stock footage ever when the American fleet open fire! This movie was so bad I don't even know how the describe it. Just hipfiring Thompsons, infinite ammo and killing countless Japanese. The whole point of the movie, the Navajo code talkers is barley mentioned, its all just Nicolas Cage being a fantasy hero. Watch Flags of our Fathers.
½ June 8, 2014
Most of this movie is wasted on a fictional white guy who clearly has mental health issues. The contributions that the Navajo made to the war effort are treated as an after thought. Wasted opportunity. An insult to some very brave men.
½ May 26, 2014
The worst war movie I have watched its overly Americanized and has no accurate relation to history in anyway other then the fact the movie takes place in ww2 setting
May 6, 2014
The clash of cultures. Nothing revealing.
April 16, 2014
big battle scenes with a decent storyline. I have to say I would watch this again at some point and doesn't deserve bad reviews.
March 10, 2014
de las peores del cine bélico sin dudas.
December 28, 2013
What idiots give a World War II movie bad ratings? Not every war movie needs to be like Saving Private Ryan or Apocalypse Now.
½ December 28, 2013
John Woo take aim at a true story of Navajo Code talker and has to help them to survive in the warzone. Could have been great, but the action scenes were way too over the top and too much of Woo's style to be taken as a serious movie. In essence, this is more about glorifying the killing and making it stylish than actually telling the story the movie is even about. A disgrace to the people involved in the true story. This is an interesting part of history that was butchered by Hollywood and deserves so much more.
December 20, 2013
A meandering and often odd script makes this a very disappointing movie.
½ December 5, 2013
Oh dear. It's been a long time coming to see this movie and goodness, my dislike of John Woo continues to new depths. It starts with a horrifically over dramatic beginning, and the Tarantino-esque violence goes on and on and on throughout a movie that should have been far more heart felt. The Navajo Indian part of the film got lost within the "horrors of war" understory.

I don't know how many times I'm going to have to see Nicolas Cage overact a part. It's pathetic. Adam Beach is not convincing. And he's not going to get any roles unless there is an under current of Native American empathy. The best acting was done by Jason Isaacs (yet another British actor that plays a better American than the Americans themselves). It's poorly casted, I can't shake Christian Slater as an idiot. He is one. And this sympathetic character isn't convincing either. And Peter Stormare? Is not and will never be an American.

It's weak. And over gratuitous. Poor John Woo. Poor.
October 5, 2013
My Favorite War Film Is 1998's Saving Private Ryan.
September 27, 2013
Under such horror of war the photography is staggeringly beautiful and clear. Nicolas takes his part to a cruel and hurting truth which will astound. This film shows the depth of Navajo love in situations that exceed what has been filmed before. Nibbles: Mexican Frittata
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