Roland Emmerich tackles one of the greatest battles of World War II with a retelling of the saga of Midway, which takes place in the Pacific. For those familiar with Emmerich’s work, you basically know what to expect from the director. Yes, basically aliens or epic disasters, but for this historically-significant film, he falls back on his other unique talents, which is big action set pieces.
In terms of war films, Midway is more like Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor instead of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, but minus the cheesy love story. The film centres on several key characters that have immense roles in the battle of Midway but a few pivotal moments are centred specifically on lead characters Navy intelligence man, Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson) and bomber, Dick Best (Ed Skrein).
The film pretty much unfolds like a History Channel special, basically breaking down the events that led up to the epic finale. This includes tactical errors as well as victories done on both the American and Japanese sides. Despite the American story being featured more prominently, Emmerich also provides a fair amount of time to reveal events that take place on the Japanese side of the war.
Still, there’s no denying that Midway, for the most part, comes across as more like a documentary biopic than an actual blockbuster. However its main saving grace is the testosterone-fuelled action set pieces featuring dog fights, bombing runs and all out mayhem. Despite the ensemble cast like Woody Harrelson, Aaron Eckhart and Dennis Quaid, even they wind up in supporting roles to the action on screen.
That may be one of the key appealing factors of the film, but one shouldn’t forget that ultimately this is about history, and an epic human drama story revolving around one of the greatest battles ever waged. Midway is a story about the leaders and the sailors who fought it, but it’s been polished nicely enough to pass off as an entertaining two-hour action spectacular. That alone makes it an entertaining enough watch.
Popcorn Review: Fresh + Sweet