Thursday, August 02, 2007

Rescue Dawn (2007)

As much as I enjoyed this movie, I can't help but think of it as something I'd seen before, and not just because it's the second time Werner Herzog has told the story of Dieter Dengler's adventures, after Little Dieter Needs to Fly. By narrowing the story down to Dengler's Laotian captivity, escape, and jungle ordeal, Herzog basically has made a fairly conventional prisoner-of-war movie. Not that it's without its personalized, subversive streak - when asked what patriotic or religious thoughts kept him going in the jungle, Christian Bale's Dieter responds that he just kept thinking of eating steak, and then a moment later with the Herzogian non sequitur, "When something is empty, fill it. When something is full, empty it. When you have an itch, scratch it."

What's best about the movie are the ensemble performances from Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies, and the other men held prisoner; and Herzog's standard blending of narrative of fiction, shooting his action documentary-style right before our eyes.

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