Hey, remember that horrid dreck of a film Behind Enemy Linesstarring a more annoying than funny Owen Wilson and a completely phoning it in at this point Gene Hackman? Yeah? Well, Rescue Dawn is exactly like that. Wait….no…no, no, no. Rescue Dawn is nothing like that. Rescue Dawn is practically the opposite of that. Despite both films being about a pilot trying to survive while trapped in enemy territory, Rescue Dawn sets itself apart by being a HARROWING tale of desperation, will, and faith. While, Behind Enemy Lines simply presents a cheap, clichéd, cash grab that only manages to make me want to gouge out my eyes with a dull spoon and/or puke uncontrollably. But I’m not here to insult Behind Enemy Lines. I’m here to talk about Rescue Dawn….and insult Behind Enemy Lines.
Rescue Dawn earns its spot with great survival films like Cast Away, The Road, and my personal favorite The Adventures Of Milo and Otis…uh…I mean The Edge. Dawn has the advantage over those 4…um…3 by being a true story. A situation that gains a whole new respect from its viewers by being filmed starkly, without pulling any punches. Director Werner Herzog, oddly famous for actually eating his own shoe, greatly delivers on the unflinching realism of being in a P.O.W. camp. The effects of starvation and malnutrition, the desperation to escape, the fear of capture and the loneliness of isolation. Its all there in spades.
Usually, survival films provide great opportunities for some terrific performances. Rescue Dawn is no different. Christian Bale is always at his best when he gets to totally go method and manipulate his body, as he does here. (Lost 55 pounds for the role.) However, Steve Zahn (Lost 40 pounds for the role.) and the vastly underrated Jeremy Davies (Lost 33 pounds for the role.) give him a run for his money.
If you want to see a quality drama with good acting, good direction, and good storytelling, then watch Rescue Dawn. If you want to see a film that takes a similar situation and reduces it to a mindless, banal, poorly shot action film, then watch the vomit inducing dumpster fire that is Behind Enemy Lines. Hell, watch them both…then tell me I’m wrong. Sweet Lord, I hate Behind Enemy Lines.