Friday, March 21, 2008
Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale) joined the Navy before the conflict in Vietnam because he wanted to fly. The Navy was offering a chance to fulfill that dream so away he went. Little did he know that poor Dieter would be shot down in his first mission over Laos. The mission was black ops so no official rescue party could be sent in to get him. Dieter is on his own to find his escape after capture by a patrol.
Director Werner Herzog captured this story before in a documentary he did with the real Dieter Dengler. However, both felt the story still needed that visualization to fully appreciate the journey Dieter faced. This time Herzog could show his interaction with fellow prisoners Duane (Steve Zahn) and Eugene (Jeremy Davies). The three along with a few other foreigners intend to make a break with the wet season comes... but can they wait that long?
For a very modest budget of $10 mil, Herzog does a fine job of creating the big picture. The locations are incredbly shot... there are times with they are going into jungle and they barely can cut their way through the foliage. Another positive thing to remark on here is the much better pacing to this film then most Werner Herzog films. At right around two hours, Rescue Dawn never plods. Christian Bale and Steve Zahn are very good here and Jeremy Davies... well he is Jeremy Davies. Bale you expect this kind of physical role from, but Steve Zahn is very effective in this serious acting turn.
Overall you get a well crafted and harrowing tale. An interesting side fact, Rescue Dawn is the first project from a production company ran by Elton Brand... yes the PF for the LA Clippers...