Shortly before the Vietnam conflict escalated into war, American pilot Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale) is captured behind enemy lines after his plane goes down. No sooner is he seized than he's plotting an escape with the other detained men (including Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies).
Big question: Writer-director Werner Herzog ("Grizzly Man") already covered this territory with his acclaimed 1997 doc "Little Dieter Needs to Fly." Does "Rescue Dawn" prove this true story is worth telling again?
Catch it: An actor who always leaves part of himself on the field, Bale's just the man to sacrifice his body as he's beaten, battered and dragged by a bull in "Rescue Dawn." He's also forced to co-exist with his fellow prisoners, and the movie gives us a sense of not only what it was like to be there but also the brotherhood that comes from being holed up in close quarters, waiting for a search party that may never come.
Skip it: If your culinary tastes won't budge in the most desperate conditions. Nothing cures extreme hunger in the woods like raw, still-slithering snake! Mmm.....
Bottom line: For all the pain endured, "Rescue Dawn" is strangely lacking in profanity (hello, PG-13 rating), and the film lacks details about Dieter's non-American inmates. Yet it's an authentic look at men during desperate times, and a fighter who really earned a hero's welcome.
Bonus: A training video advises the guys that, "In the jungle, your best friend is your knife." Just be careful if the two of you decide to take your relationship past platonic--knives are awful kissers.
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Written and directed by Werner Herzog; photographed by Peter Zeitlinger; edited by Joe Bini; music by Klaus Badelt; produced by Steve Marlton, Elton Brand and Harry Knapp. An MGM release; opens Friday. Running time: 2:00. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for some sequences of intense war violence and torture).
Dieter - Christian Bale
Duane - Steve Zahn
Gene - Jeremy DaviesCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times