Rescue Dawn (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/10/2007

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 125 mins

Riveting wartime thriller, superbly directed by Werner Herzog and featuring yet another terrific performance by Christian Bale.

What's it all about?
Part Vietnam drama, part survival thriller, Rescue Dawn is a dramatisation of the story that director Werner Herzog first tackled in his 1997 documentary, Little Dieter Needs To Fly. Christian Bale stars as German-born U.S. pilot Dieter Dengler, who gets shot down and captured during his first raid into Laos in 1965.

Held in a make-shift jungle prison, Dengler is brutally tortured but steadfastly refuses to denounce American imperialism, despite being offered the opportunity of release if he does so. Instead, he rallies his fellow prisoners (Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies) and they stage an elaborate escape attempt, but the savage jungle environment proves just as hostile as the prison.

The Good
Christian Bale is perhaps the best actor of his generation but even by his remarkably high standards, his performance here is extraordinary, involving feats of grueling physical endurance and his now customary weight loss. There's also strong support from Steve Zahn (in a rare, non-wisecracking appearance), although Jeremy Davies's twitchy nutter routine is as tiresome here as it was the last five times.

Herzog's films (whether fictional or documentary) are often fascinated with the savage power of nature and Rescue Dawn's jungle sequences carry strong echoes of his earlier classics, Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre, Wrath of God. In addition, Herzog maintains a cracking pace throughout and orchestrates some extraordinary sequences, such as Bale and Zahn getting caught in a mud-slide, or a shocking confrontation with some native jungle-dwellers.

The Great
As well as being a superb thriller, Rescue Dawn also carries an understated, yet no less effective anti-war message, giving it a timely and effective resonance with the current political climate.

Worth seeing?
In short, this is a superbly directed, brilliantly acted and thoroughly gripping thriller that is also surprisingly moving. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Rescue Dawn (12A)
Rescue Dawn has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 18/10/2017 08:40

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