The long-winded titled USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage is a large stew of every World War 2 movie clichés marinated with a lot of cheese.
This is the true life survival story of Captain Charles McWay, captain of the title ship, given the presidential order to deliver an atomic bomb that will hopefully end World War II, if his mission is successful.
When their cloak and dagger mission has been completed, the navy cruiser with 1196 men is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in shark infested waters on its return home. We follow the crew’s fight for survival and the aftermath of events in which only 317 people returned home.
The film, supposedly made on a $40 million budget, is a shoddy experience. The direction from Mario Van Peebles is deeply marred by a lacklustre script that drags the story to almost two hours with no thoughts of clever pace and plotting.
The first half of the movie is an unbearable info dump the audience, throwing up the kind of clichés that haven’t been seen since Pearl Harbour. There’s also some of the worst special effects sequences I’ve seen recently – these opening moments serve as a warning of things to come.
Nicolas Cage, in the lead role, gives a commanding, restrained performance as Captain McVay, a man who’s deeply focused on saving the lives of his crew. His slightly wasted performance is almost lost amidst a sea of melodrama and weak supporting characters.
The other established actor, Tom Sizemore, plays a similar gruff, sweaty character, as he did in Michaal Bay’s disaster movie, spending part of the film screaming in pain holding his bitten off-leg. James Remar and Thomas Jane, who sports a brilliant moustache, are welcome additions to the cast, but sadly in underwritten roles.
There are links to Stephen Spielberg’s 1975 classic and as the tragic events told in this movie when Robert Shaw’s Quint masterfully relived his experience of surviving to his crew mates on-board the Orca. It might be best not to mention that director Mario Van Peebles appeared in the Jaws: The Revenge as dreadlocked Jake.
This DVD release from Lionsgate contains a 30 minute making of documentary with interviews with key cast and crew who talk about the film’s development and its eventual production.
USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage is equal parts cheap shark attack movie, crappy wartime weepy and hackneyed courtroom drama. It should be avoided at all costs.
Dir: Mario Van Peebles
Scr:Cam Cannon, Richard Rionda Del Castro
Pro: Michael Mendelsohn, Richard Rionda Del Castro
Cast:Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane, James Remar, Matt Lanter, Brian Presley, Cody Walker
Edit:Robert A. Ferretti
Music: Laurent Eyquem
Run time: 128 minutes
USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage is available on digital download 19th December and DVD/Blu-ray 9th January 2017.