“Midway” stars Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, and Woody Harrelson. Released on November 8, 2019, the film follows the US Navy sailors and aviators during the Battle of Midway.
The film is directed by Roland Emmerich, who also directed films such as “Universal Soldier”, “Stargate”, “Independence Day”, and “White House Down”. Back in the day, war was best described as an absolute hellhole. It’s filled with misery and savagery as people from different countries fought and attempted to kill each other instead of working things out like mature adults. However, the history of war had its share of some good moments to go along with the bad moments. There were plenty of people who accomplished many daring tasks during the events of World War II and are proclaimed as heroes because of that. The best example for this case is the Battle of Midway, a naval battle between the United States and the Japanese that took place six months after the latter attacked Pearl Harbor. This decisive battle, which involved the United States Navy and the aviators defeating the Imperial Japanese fleet, was considered to be the turning point of the war. Now that’s the power of America. With a battle this epic, it’s no surprise that Hollywood wanted to portray it on the big screen, and what better director that is capable enough to bring this vision to life other than Mr. “Independence Day” himself, Roland Emmerich? They could’ve gone with Michael Bay for this one since he directed a film based on the attack of Pearl Harbor, but clearly no one wants another three-hour war film that’s filled with bland romance and cheesy dialogue. With this weekend being Veteran’s Day weekend, I decided to review this film in honor of the brave veterans who saved countless lives while serving in the line of duty. Does it do the historical event justice? Let’s travel back to World War II and find out.
The story depicts the events that pit the Americans against the Japanese during World War II, including the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. These events were told from the perspectives of the characters who were involved in the epic fight that turned the tide of the war. Audiences who read about those events or lived through them will immediately know how the film's going to turn out at the end, which is pretty common for war films that are based on real-life events. However, people who haven't will be interested in seeing how it all went down. The film had what it takes to be an entertaining war film that honors the brave people who fought their way to victory, but it failed to take advantage of this strategy and wound up crashing into the ocean during takeoff. The film's story felt more like a simplistic collection of events that happened during this time period than a thoughtful narrative about the power of hope and determination. While it works as some sort of tribute to the people who made these daring accomplishments, it fell way short of obtaining the same quality as the other war films like “Saving Private Ryan” and “Hacksaw Ridge”. This is mostly due to how the story and the characters were handled. Aside from the accomplishments that the characters made and a decent all-star cast that portrayed them, there’s honestly little to no reason as to why I should care about them. Everything about them felt completely empty and dull to me, and the plot didn’t help much either as it struggled to shoot past its by-the-numbers narrative and its anticlimactic sequences in order to provide some much-needed depth in its quality. Even when these characters are fighting in the war, I didn’t care that much about them. There’s absolutely no sense of urgency and emotion to these characters when they’re about to meet their demise. They did make an effort in making the scenarios inspirational during a few scenes, but those efforts often came out as forced or cheesy in terms of the dialogue. The plot and the characters are the most important ingredients that are needed to make a war film thought-provoking and intense, and sadly, “Midway” fails to remember those ingredients. It’s like as if it only cares about showcasing the war itself instead of balancing it with an engaging storyline. These flaws alone made the film’s runtime (which is close of two hours and 20 minutes) completely unbearable and unnecessarily stretched out. If I had to point out one thing from the film that I actually enjoyed, it would have to be the battle sequences. Whether it’s the Pearl Harbor invasion or the planes dive-bombing towards their targets, every action scene that is portrayed onscreen was intense and nicely directed from start to finish. The visuals that were used for these sequences were nothing too special, but they work well in bringing these battles to life, even though some of them looked a tad ugly.
Overall, “Midway” is a bland and uninspired experience that only relied on the battles themselves to carry itself out of the war zone. The action and the visuals made it worth watching on the biggest screen possible. Unfortunately, you have to get past its unrewarding by-the-numbers plot and empty characters in order to watch them. Roland Emmerich did wonders in providing some entertaining action sequences, but based on what I saw from him, his storytelling still needs some adjustments. I honestly didn’t think I would be that disappointed in a war film like this, but you know what they say, life is full of surprises. I still honor the heroes for their bravery during their fight for victory, but honestly, they deserve better than this.