The Great Raid (2005)

(In theaters, August 2005) I see a good number of films per year, but seldom do I have to face such a self-consciously retro film as this WW2 war drama. Everything about The Great Raid feels as if it escaped from the sixties. The bland camera work. The workmanlike quality of the acting. The by-the-number plotting. The languid pacing. The complete lack of modern distance about war. It’s as if director John Dahl set out to make a film as if shot in the 1960s and sent forward in a time capsule. It’s not bad, but it’s certainly slow and old-fashioned. It’ll probably find an audience on video and be replayed once every veteran’s day. I recall falling asleep sometime during the film’s “third day” and waking up on the fourth and seeing so difference in my understanding of the plot: make of that what you will. Otherwise, not much to say: if you like old war movies and thought that the post-Saving Private Ryan wave was too gory (read; realistic), then this may be the one for you. If nothing else, it’s a good story that deserves to be told widely. I just wish the narrative could have been more compelling.

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