8 out of 10


History - WW2

I`ve seen much in the way of WW2 movies and history, but who of us in Canada know quite a lot about the South Pacific theatre of Combat? It was predominately a USA versus Japan zone of conflict.

Although Germany used the Enigma Cipher machines, after establsihing a team of experts, the British managed to break the code, leaving the Allies able to intercept and read the German communications. Fully knowing that the enemies intentions is a distinct military tactical advantage. John Woo`s "Windtalkers" provides us with some little known facts about successful military codes: the Japanese also managed to break many US scret codes with success until the Navajo twarted them.

US Marines enlisted and recruited Navajo, bussing them right off Arizona reservations. The Navajo entered military life, specifically being trained in code usage where native short forms were used, eg "Many Big Guns" meant "Artillery". Trained as radio operators, they could transmit in seconds what had previously taken minutes. Although the Japanese intercepted these new signals, they couldn`t understand and decipher their meaning. Navajo language mixed with Indian code words became a double-edged sword, for the US Supreme Command worried that the Japs would break the code and "Protect the code at all costs", became the rule of the day.

During the battle of the Solomans, an acting NCO stood Nicholas Cage, and his platoon stood and fought the Japanese down to the very last man. Nicholas Cage`s character next finds himself back in Hawaii, recovering from his wounds.

Refusing to be discharged from military service, he volunteers for active duty. Promoted to the rank of sergeant, his job becomes "Protect the Code". Paired with one of the Navajo Radio Operators, they are both sent off to combat in the 1944 Naval Invasion and Battle for Saipan, which the USA wants as a B29 Superfortress emergency landing and refueling base for attacks against the Japanese homeland.

Navajo radio operators were responsible for laying down and communicating back effective fire missions. The Naval bombardment scenes were well filmed and exciting. The aircraft were not that historically accurate, because aircraft pictured were too modern.

US Marines were to protect their Navajo radio operator`s counterparts. Although being distant at first, they developed quite close friendships, but never were the Navajo to be captured by the enemy and risk their torture by the Japanese that might lead the Japanese to break the code.

War is cruel, and it is hard to kill a friend. Combat turns into kill or be killed with John Woo style showing in the violent combat, like it was historical, each side never giving an inch with bitter hand-to-hand fighting and death at close range. Who reacted and shot first was often the onlyone left. Fast combat close-ups means deaths were a blury sequence of events.

Overall a good flick telling a little known story of the Navajo Code Talkers and in the end, the only one that the Japanese never succeeded in breaking.

Standard "How The US Won The War", But Historically, Not Bad

Film Critic: Paul Wieler