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WINDTALKERS

"... fashionably retro in its reverential bugle fanfares and nonstop flag-flapping...Ranging from the mists of Monument Valley to the shores of Saipan, 'Windtalkers' is at once chintzy and grandiose, awash in battlefield sentimentality and platoon clichE`s... Like many Woo projects, it's an unrequited buddy film, but seemingly written by rote, it has little of the nuttiness that infused his best Hollywood movies, 'Broken Arrow' and 'Face/Off'... Less state-of-the-art than 'Black Hawk Down' in its combat sequences and far more banal in its dramatic conception than 'The Thin Red Line'...." -- J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

"...Cage is the only reason to check out an otherwise mediocre movie... I kept wishing I was watching a documentary about the wartime Navajos and what they accomplished instead of all this specious Hollywood hoo-ha...Woo builds an entire movie around the unsubstantiated premise that a Marine would have been ordered to kill a fellow Marine. We don't need such trumpery in order to buy into a real-life story that has more than enough heart to begin with...As befits a John Woo movie, the combat scenes have some panache, but not enough. His multicamera slo-mo balletics don't really conjure up the heat of battle; they conjure up other John Woo movies." --Peter Rainer, New York

"The battle sequences are exhausting, violent and overwhelming, but it's the story of how the Navajo used their native language to invent a secret military code the Japanese could never break that makes this movie memorable...It would have been illegal for any Marine to be ordered to kill a fellow Marine. The premise is pure poetic license, but it does make for a great moral dilemma. Hell, it's a John Woo movie, not a documentary...It's like the first 25 minutes of 'Saving Private Ryan' stretched over two hours. I liked it a lot, but the weak and the skittish are hereby warned." --Rex Reed, The New York Observer

"I was reminded of 'Glory,' the story of heroic African-American troops in the Civil War, which was seen through the eyes of their white commanding officer. Why does Hollywood find it impossible to trust minority groups with their own stories?...we get way, way, way too much footage of bloody battle scenes, intercut with thin dialogue scenes that rely on exhausted formulas...Although Woo is Asian, he treats the enemy Japanese troops as pop-up targets, a faceless horde of screaming maniacs who run headlong into withering fire...The Navajo code talkers have waited a long time to have their story told. Too bad it appears here merely as a gimmick in an action picture." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"Woo, like so many war-movie directors, insults our intelligence when he has enemy troops obligingly hurl themselves into the line of American fire and then fall down in heaps. Some of the most eloquent moments in the movie are more intimate--Nicolas Cage's increasing sunken-eyed weariness, the slowly acquired, half-humiliating savagery of Adam Beach's Ben Yahzee...Even though we can see it coming, this gruff, inarticulate, half-embarrassed love between men, arrived at after many setbacks, is one of the stories that action movies never tire of telling and that many of us, even though we may laugh it off the next day, still find moving." --David Denby, The New Yorker

" Woo is his generation's preeminent orchestrator of violence, someone who truly loves the smell of napalm in the morning...So his attraction to the astronomical bullet and body count of World War II was only a matter of time. The resulting 'Windtalkers,' however, is not all it might have been, an oddly old-fashioned film from a director who's usually anything but...After what we've seen recently in 'We Were Soldiers' and especially 'Black Hawk Down,' these battle scenes seem a tad formulaic, as does the film's story... With a body count rising to computer-game levels, these combat sequences are more numbing than exciting, an exhausting display of purposeless firepower. Even John Woo, it seems, can fall victim to carnage overkill." --Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times