Director: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Luke Evans, Mandy Moore, Luke Kleintank, Dennis Quaid, Aaron Eckhart, Keean Johnson, Nick Jonas
Written by: Wes Tooke
Running Time: 138 mins
Release date: 8th November 2019
The Battle of Midway is a lesser-known part of America’s entry into World War II, even though it has been filmed twice before, once as a documentary by John Ford (depicted in the film) and the other a drama from 1976. Now, the man who blew up the White House gets his hands-on historical events, and while the characters are based loosely on the men involved, he attacks it like a disaster movie while blowing up everything.
Days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, intelligence seems to point to another attack that could remove America’s navy from the South Pacific. With the Americans still reeling over the devastation of having most of their ships destroyed during the famous attack, and with fewer planes, the navy decides that they have to attack first on a perilous suicide mission.
It’s hard not to compare this to Michael Bay’s 2001 film version of Pearl Harbour, and thankfully, Emmerich hasn’t added a pointless love triangle. It is more bombastic than Bay’s film, deciding to play the whole thing out like one of his disaster movies.
We get a first act that introduces the principal characters. All of the while seems to have fallen out of a book of cliche. We have the maverick pilot who refuses to take orders, does things his ways and chews gum. We have the mild-mannered codebreaker who doubts his own abilities, we have the gruff general and so on and so forth.
The film is peppered with massive, loud set pieces. The Pearl Harbour sequence is a mass of explosions, fire and death, which sets the tone for the rest of the film. Why use one bullet when a thousand will do. The air battles are impressive, but they look like something from Star Wars than a classic war picture. Amazing that the Japanese can fire so many bullets and still manage to miss their targets.
When we aren’t being bombarded with noise for the eyes, the dialogue is laughable. When characters say things like “Men like Dick Best can win this war!” you can’t help but stifle the giggles. Everything is told with so much earnest that you can only think the script was written as one extended trailer.
The cast, made up of interesting supporting actors, do their best with the dodgy script. Ed Skrein, as Dick Best (yes, that was his name) comes across as the all-American hero an could be the father of Tom Cruise’s Maverick in Top Gun, with his reckless aeronautical antics. Woody Harrelson, as an unlikely general, should win an award for the best wig.
If you thought Independence Day was massively over the top, Midway goes even further. It could have been this year’s Dunkirk. In the hands of a director who understand nuance and subtlety, it would have been. Instead, for two hours, it will hit you over the head until you come out with a migraine. Not good at all.