Christian Bale stars in this true life story of Dieter Dengler, a German born U.S. Air Force pilot who was shot down during a classified mission over Laos and was later interned at and escaped from a Vietcong prisoner of war camp.
All the usual prisoner of war ingredients are here and once again Bale proves his willingness to suffer for his art, genuinely undergoing many of the harrowing ordeals Dengler went through – including water torture, eating maggots and wrestling with leeches and poisonous snakes. The documentary approach gives the film a genuine credibility which I also found it a little dry, as I didn’t really feel any emotional attachment to the characters. But it’s certainly a well made and interesting film and Werner Herzog skillfully side steps the usual flag waving histrionics that would probably have resulted from an American director’s involvement, at least until the rather overly feelgood ending. It’s beautifully photographed and Steve Zahn is suitable harrowed as his escape companion, but once again it’s Christian Bale’s performance that makes the film.
Rescue Dawn is a good, solid prisoner of war film although it may be a little uneventful for some tastes.