by Mark Rivers
June 19, 2002
Chinaman John Woo has made over thirty movies, each of which lasts about ninety minutes too long. In "Windtalkers," produced by Woo, Terence Chang and Alison R. Rosenzweig, Woo has finally decided to quit making his movies 50 percent slow-motion, which is a step in the right direction. What he refused to do, however, was stick to something he knows -- formulaic action pics starring Chow-Yun Fat.
In "Windtalkers," we see Nicolas Cage as a USMC Sergeant who is assigned to a Navajo code talker; to protect him in battle, and/or blow his head off if it looks like he might be captured. Christian Slater joins the cast as another Marine sergeant, assigned to another code talker in the same unit.
Now, I must admit, I haven't done a great deal of research on the Navajo code talkers, even after having seen this movie. I did read an interview with a real code talker, a featherhead named Chester Nez, who said he was never assigned any such "bodyguard." So, as to whether this movie is historically accurate in that respect -- I wouldn't count on it. Hollywood is not known for its truth in history, especially where World War II is involved.
As this movie takes place in the Pacific Theatre, I was pleased to see that Hitler's name was mentioned only once, whereas Tojo was mentioned at least twice. Unlike last year's "Pearl Harbor," in which the Nazis themselves were made out to be largely responsible for the attack on that U.S. base, the Japs are actually depicted as enemies: real-life, screaming, shooting, contorted-face foes. It even mentioned (however briefly) that the Japs tortured their prisoners. It occurred to me that this is why the project was given to John Woo - nobody would accuse an Asian director of being racist for making a "Whites vs. Asians" picture.
In fact, this is not so much a "Whites vs. Asians" picture as it is a "White Americans are exploiting their much-abused native folk" picture. The officer who coldly gives Cage and Slater their assignment is blue-eyed Jew Jason Isaacs, who has played the villain so often now, he may as well start calling himself "Snidely Whiplashberg."
Also, Jew Noah Emmerich plays a horribly stereotyped White racist Southerner who takes every opportunity to insult and beat on the noble savages. At one point, his life is saved by the backup Indian, causing the racist to re-think what he's been taught all of his life. He tells Nicolas Cage that his grandpappy always sat on the porch and told tales of when he was hired to slaughter Indians at the rate of "three dollars an ear." Now, he says, we're rubbing elbows with them, and hey, who knows? Maybe someday, we'll be all buddy-buddy with the Japs too.
Nicolas Cage mutters "You think too much," and, in a final jab at White Southerners, even those who have reformed, the hillbilly replies, "I've never been accused of that before." Hyuk hyuk.
"Windtalkers" is about as semitically correct a film as you'll find in Hollywood these days. Don't bother.
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