"...There are plenty of intricately choreographed battle scenes in WINDTALKERS, but action meister Woo also finds the complicated humanity in this offbeat tale of American friendship and obsession..."
Entertainment Weekly - 06/14/2002
"...A fascinating Woo movie....WINDTALKERS is a fresh contribution to the cinematic literature of American WWII movies from a Chinese born-director with a flair for the imagery of spiritual battle..."
Premiere - 07/01/2002
"...What makes Woo such a fascinating director is his rock-solid conviction..."
Los Angeles Times - 06/14/2002
"...Woo approached the filming of the WINDTALKERS combat scenes with his usual gusto..."
USA Today - 06/14/2002 "...Woo comes through with the voluminous action scenes fans have come to expect....WINDTALKERS is capably made and certainly impresses in carrying its length..."
Box Office - 07/01/2002 "...The performances are perfectly palatable..."
Sight and Sound - 04/01/2006 "[N]ever less than heartfelt. The harrowing combat scenes sensibly eschew balletic beauty."
WINDTALKERS begins quietly--with widescreen aerial shots of clouds that gradually clear to reveal the beautiful mesas of Monument Valley. A bus collects Navajo volunteers Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach) and Charlie Whitehorse (Roger Willie). It's 1943, and the U.S. has developed an indecipherable secret military code based on the Navajo language. Yahzee and Whitehorse are to be trained as code talkers.
Then John Woo's Pacific war film erupts into violence, with a savage battle that has one survivor, Joe Enders (Nicolas Cage). Badly wounded and feeling guilty at the loss of his companions, Joe recuperates in Hawaii where he is helped by a sympathetic nurse (Frances O'Connor). Joe disguises his hearing loss and he is promoted as Yahzee's battlefield bodyguard. Ordered to "protect the code at all times," Joe must prevent Yahzee from being captured. At first, Yahzee and Whitehorse, whose bodyguard is Ox Henderson (Christian Slater), are subjected to prejudice--particularly from Rogers (Noah Emmerich). But when the unit is shipped to Saipan, the Marines begin to appreciate the code talkers.
Director Woo has created a powerful drama. The visceral battle sequences are strikingly filmed and there is fine acting from Cage, Beach, Willie, Slater, Emmerich, and Frances O'Connor, who portrays the poignancy of love in uncertain times.