Rescue Dawn

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Rescue Dawn
Review (8.5/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

Rescue Dawn is the movie based on the true story of a German-born but proud American pilot named Deiter Dengler (Christian Bale) and his capture and subsequent escape from a POW camp during the beginning of the Vietnam war. Dengler was part of a classified bombing mission but his plane was shot down and he was taken captive and shipped off to a remote camp. He was locked up with two other Americans (played by Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies) and three Vietnamese men. The ever-confident and overly enthusiastic Dengler hatches a plan to escape and he succeeds but with his Vietnamese captors hot on his trail and an unpredictable jungle lying ahead of him, his flight to freedom is far from over.

If Rescue Dawn does one thing alone, it establishes Christian Bale as one of the finest actors in Hollywood today, if there was ever any doubt. Fortunately, that is not all the movie does. Rescue Dawn is a fine all-around effort from beginning to end, from top to bottom. Director Werner Herzog has made a fine movie, beautifully shot at times and intensely gripping at others. That's two outstanding Herzog movies that I watched this week - Grizzly Man being the other, which by the way is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen.

As for Bale, well, he does it again with the weight thing. After shocking the world with his disturbing 120 pound frame in The Machinist and then bulking up for Batman Begins, Bale seems to lose weight right before our very eyes in Rescue. This man takes his roles seriously. I'd like to find out when this movie was made, if it was between Machinist and Batman. It can't be healthy what this man is doing. It's entertaining but probably not healthy.

As good as Bale is, however, he is equally matched by Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies. Zahn becomes Bale's sidekick, sort of, and Davies plays a prisoner on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Both were great.

Overall, I have to say that Rescue Dawn is one of the better movies I've seen so far this year. It is shocking. It is heart-breaking. It will put a smile on your face and perhaps a tear in your eye. It's got outstanding performances and excellent location shots. This movie seems to be flying under the radar and has sort of a strange release date for this type of movie but I do hope that it gets the accolades it deserves. Bale and Zahn certainly have given two of the better performances of the year, so far, and should get some consideration come award season. They certainly will be contenders for the prestigious Empire Movies Awards.


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