Starring: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson
Director: Roland Emmerich
Running Time: 138 mins
Midway is an American film about one of the most crucial turning points of the Second World War, as the USA fought back against the Japanese onslaught in the Pacific Ocean at the Battle of Midway, and the brave soldiers who fought on both sides of the battle.
Some war films are better than others, and while I wouldn’t put Midway in the upper echelon of Second World War epics, it is still a thoroughly entertaining watch that blends strong historical drama with hugely enjoyable action. It may not offer up any particularly striking emotion, nor bring up any thought-provoking or interesting ideas about the nature of war and the history we know, but it still does its job as a rapid-fire action war movie.
Now, the Pacific Theatre is a part of the Second World War that, particularly in recent years, hasn’t received the same attention on the big screen as events in Europe. Of course, the war in the Pacific was just as significant as what happened in Europe, but with the exception of Clint Eastwood’s fantastic double feature, Letters From Iwo Jima and Flags Of Our Fathers, there hasn’t been a really great film focusing on this theatre.
Midway isn’t quite the great film that I might have expected it to be, particularly given the immense significance of the events it portrays, but it has a real good shot at being just that. With energy, passion for its history and brilliant, rapid-fire action, it’s a great blockbuster watch that, while not quite providing the depth or intrigue it perhaps should, will entertain you right the way through.
Above all, it’s the action that really makes Midway such an entertaining spectacle. From Roland Emmerich, one of the leading blockbuster directors of the late 1990s, it was always certain that this film was going to be full of explosions, shootouts and action, but it’s done with such energy and with such style that it actually proves to be the best part of Midway.
With the exception of a few dodgy shots, the CGI and visual effects are really good. The film doesn’t quite have the gritty, realistic portrayal of warfare as is more commonplace in films nowadays, with a more polished, game-like feel to its action, but the visual effects play in hugely to the dynamic excitement of those action sequences, with the aerial dogfights in particular really popping on the big screen.
Some will say that this more blockbuster-like style of action isn’t entirely appropriate to a war movie, and that the film perhaps should have more of a conscience when straying towards the glorification of violence. However, while those are valid points, Midway does have a beating heart, as it focuses on the immense bravery of both the American and Japanese soldiers who fought in the Pacific War and specifically the Battle of Midway.
Firstly, the decision to include the stories of both Japanese soldiers and officers is a brilliant touch which not only shows that this film isn’t just a jingoistic yeehaw, but also brings greater historical depth and breadth to the story, allowing you to tap into the psyche of ‘the other side’ in a way that a lot of films in the past haven’t been too keen to do.
Again, it’s not quite on the level of Flags Of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima, but Midway works well as a fair and engaging historical film as well as an action movie, and would go well as a companion watch to the Japanese box office hit: The Eternal Zero.
So, overall, Midway is a surprisingly entertaining watch that, while not necessarily rewriting the rule book when it comes to the Pacific Theatre on screen in the modern day, still provides great action, historical intrigue and spectacular visuals throughout, which is why I’m giving it a 7.3.