2.5 stars/5 stars
The latest film directed by John Woo, the Hong Kong director famed for his action sequences, is about Navajos serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. These soldiers used their language to formulate a communication code used by the American military that the Japanese were unable to break. The action sequences in “Windtalkers” follow the recent trend (e.g. “Saving Private Ryan”) of showing more gore in war films. Woo does a nice job of shooting these scenes: They are crisp and create undeniable tension for the audience. The acting by Nicholas Cage and Christian Slater, who are officers assigned to protect these Navajo code-talkers, is also first-rate. But the plot is never smart enough for the action. The film fails in tired moments where Private Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach), one of the Navajo soldiers, fights racism from his fellow white soldiers or performs a mystical Native American ceremony. The tale of these Navajo soldiers could have been very riveting, but instead the action scenes are the primary driver of the movie.