Director: Werner Herzog.
Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Zahn.
Running Time: 124 minutes.
Legendary German director Werner Herzog chose to make his first English language movie about a subject he’s already tackled in his acclaimed 1997 documentary, Little Dieter Needs To Fly. It’s the true story of German-born, American-raised pilot Dieter Dengler (Bale), whose plane was shot down over Laos in 1965, while on a black ops mission to North Vietnam.
When he jettisons his plane, Dengler is captured by a gang of local militia, whose sympathies lie with the Viet Cong. Following some disturbing torture sequences, our hero is imprisoned in a jungle camp, with a range of typically despotic guards. Rather than signing a statement condemning the actions of the USA, however, Dengler plans an audacious escape, along with his fellow inmates, involving a marathon cross-country trek to Thailand.
Bale (bearing a striking resemblance to Future Kings Of Spain drummer Bryan MacMahon), who lost three stone for the part, is superb, as is Steve Zahn as his wild-eyed escape partner, Dwayne. The scenery is stunning, and Herzog’s direction is assured, never allowing the pace to drop. Rescue Dawn covers many of Herzog’s familiar themes (obsession, man versus nature and will to survive) in a thoroughly engaging whole that proves the old arthouse favourite can mix it with the big boys of Hollywood when the mood takes him.
For Fans Of: Missing In Action, Fitzcarraldo, Bangkok Hilton.