The Great Raid

Dan Goldwasser Movie Reviews

BigSheb invited me to tag along with him to a “Below the Line” screening of The Great Raid. Directed by John Dahl (Rounders, Joy Ride), the film focuses on the true story about the most successful rescue in World War II: over 500 American prisoners-of-war from the Cabanatuan Japanese POW camp in the Phillipines. As it is based on real life, albeit slightly embellished, the mere concept of the rescue is dramatic enough. However, as exciting and fun as it is to watch the film play out, there is no real character drama – because it’s not like anyone has a “choice” to be made. Actually that’s not entirely true – there are some moments that allow for decisions, and therein lies the drama – but they are few and far between.

Don’t get me wrong – this was a movie that felt like a great throwback to the good WW2 dramas in the 50s and 60s, with a touch of modern action. The film is shot very straightforwardly until the actual raid – locked down cameras and dollytracks let the characters play out their emotion and it definitely comes across on the screen. Once the raid begins, things go handheld to add to the frenetic events unfolding.

Musically, I was really impressed with Trevor Rabin’s score – this is definitely one of his best works, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the album. Heroic, patriotic, and dramatic, it is a far cry from the POS score that was Bad Boys II.

Unfortunately for the film, this is Miramax – and it’s been done for a year, and is now getting unceremoniously dumped in theaters with little fanfare. Did you know that this movie comes out on Friday? I doubt it. But it’s definitely worth a look see. If you want a film with good characters and dramatic action, this is definitely worth your time.

After the screening ended, there was a Q&A session with Dahl, the producer, editor, production manager, and Capt. Dale Dye, USMC (Ret.). It was worth it just to hear Dye talk candidly about filmmaking and “actor boot camp”. Hell, I’d listen to him read a children’s bedtime story – he’s just that cool.