The Great Raid
As directed by John Dahl, The Great Raid is a bland retro valentine to a great actóthe WWII rescue of 500-plus Army POWs from a Japanese prison camp by outnumbered Rangers. Weirdly uncinematic (voice-overs and info cards abound), Dahl seems convinced that making the raidís heroes recognizably human would render them less heroic; GI Joe-level thumbnails trump characterization at every turn. Joseph Fiennes is the noble malaria-stricken POW, James Franco the steely brains of the operation, Benjamin Bratt the Patton-lite leader, and Connie Nielsen the Caucasian queenpin of the Philippine resistance. Dahl is stuck between honoring his subjectsí bravery and ignoring how his movie will play in the context of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. While he produced an effective neo-noir in 1994ís The Last Seduction, Dahlís rejection of Sam Fuller-like ambivalence in favor of Back to Bataan-style rah-rah is a cheap trick thatís utterly dependent on a Pavlovian patriotism and composer Trevor Rabinís sub-Copeland fanfares for dramatic impact.