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< Entertainment >

New Movie Reviews

"The Great Raid"

by Michael Handorf
handorf@comcast.net

Benjamin Bratt. James Franco. War/Romance.

Synopsis: A squad of American soldiers is charged with rescuing 500 prisoners of war held in a Japanese POW camp on a Philippine island.

Review: Really good. Better than a number of critics have rated it. Even though the main plotline (which is historically accurate) is mapped out well in advance - America is done in Europe and is coming back to the Pacific to finish this war - there are three plots that are intertwined nicely.

The first (and a true account) revolves around Lt. Colonel Henry Mucci (Bratt) and Captain Prince (Franco) planning a raid of the prisoner camp at Cabanatuan. It is imperative that the prisoners be rescued before their Japanese captors suspect the American troops’ presence, or the prisoners will be killed.

The second concerns the American prisoners of war hanging on until they are rescued or the war ends. The highest-ranking soldier in the camp, Major Gibson (Joseph Fiennes), is near death, a victim of malaria. He is trying desperately to keep his men from trying to escape - he believes the rumors that American troops are advancing toward their position.

The third is a story of unrequited/unacknowledged love between Major Gibson and Margaret (Connie Nielsen), a nurse who is working with the Manila Underground to smuggle medicine into the prisoners’ camp.

This is an interesting movie and relatively less bloody than most war movies. It is also very intriguing to see the Filipino soldiers given credit for their involvement. At one point, Lt. Colonel Mucci meets with the leader of the Filipino troops to "eat some crow" for underestimating their abilities.

Bratt shouldn’t be given top billing here. Aside from his issuance of some cheesy pep speeches about valor, the heavy lifting is done by his captain (Franco).

OVERALL GRADE: B

 

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