The Great Raid is a rousing, patriotic war movie—or at least it tries to be—but beneath the heroics, you can sense a more subversive and resentful sensibility. The film, which takes place toward the end of World War II, is about the largest successful rescue mission in American military history, but every now and then it reminds us that the men who were saved on that occasion were only a fraction of the thousands who had been "abandoned" by their country three years earlier, when General MacArthur fled the Philippines and the soldiers who stayed behind surrendered to the Japanese. These prisoners of war may not have the most unbiased opinion of Allied strategy, but the film insists that they are in their situation partly because their own government broke its promise to support them.
Like the soldiers who have languished in a Japanese camp for three long years, this film has sat on the shelf for so long that the people who made it could be excused for wondering if they, too, had been abandoned. The Great Raid was shot three years ago, and is being released to theatres only now—possibly because this summer marks the 60th anniversary of the war's end, or possibly because the Weinstein brothers are leaving Miramax next month and want to flush a few more films out of their system before they go.
At any rate, the film has been given very little fanfare, and it's not too hard to see why. While the historical events depicted here were unusual and cause for genuine celebration, the film that depicts these events is a dull, by-the-numbers set of war-movie clichés—or, worse, since the story concerns three protagonists in three very different circumstances who only barely ever meet each other, the film ...1
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The Great Raid
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