Midway (2019)

Midway Movie HD Poster.jpegDirector: Roland Emmerich
Running Time: 138 Minutes
Rating: 12a
Starring: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Luke Evans, Mandy Moore, Luke Kleintank, Dennis Quaid, Aaron Eckhart, Keean Johnson, Nick Jonas, Etsushi Toyokawa, Tadanobu Asano, Darren Criss, Nobuya Shimamoto, Jake Weber, Brennan Brown, Alexander Ludwig

For his latest directorial feature, Roland Emmerich begins where Michael Bay once covered, with the horrific attack on Pearl Harbour. It's the catalyst for this films story, which leads to the US and Japanese naval forces engaging in further conflict, all building up to an integral battle over the fate of Midway Atoll. A passion project for the director, he initially attempted to get it made in the '90s, but the $100 million budget was a roadblock for studio executives. Now that the years have passed, and such a film budget is more commonplace, Emmerich has finally managed to get this feature film made. Looking at the end product, it feels fitting to have been crafted by the director of Independence Day: Resurgence.

Don't get me wrong, the intent is certainly there. The time is taken to evenly show both sides to this war, as the US and Japanese forces get their hands dirty, and it wants to be a stirring experience that honours all those who took part in this battle. It's a shame that Wes Tooke's script seems preoccupied on embracing banal tropes, and ends up feeling like an empty headed exercise.

A sprawling cast has been assembled, each inhabiting their own part of the story which makes up the larger picture. While they're all vital to the real life story, an uneven handling leaves a number of them to get the short end of the stick, and as the plot progresses on, once vital characters are left in the dust. You'll understandably forget they were ever in the film, until they suddenly pop up much later on in the running time.

Spare a thought for the cast-members, as the script gives little for them to hang their roles onto. It feels improper to say they portray characters, rather than cliches moulded into human form, and given sentience. Take Ed Skrein, portraying the hotshot pilot who constantly makes risky moves which would kill him, were he not essentially the films protagonist. Patrick Wilson fares no better, as he permanently wears a furrowed brow, in a constant attempt to make-up for his failure to stop Pearl Harbour. It's also worth mentioning the female performers, such as Mandy Moore and Rachel Perrell Fosket, because it's more than the film allows them to do. While the men propel the plot, the women's existence relies on looking worried, and being a part of expository dialogue. Nothing more, nothing less.

As somebody who failed History Class, I cannot comment on how accurate this film is in depicting the actual events. What I can say is that the end credits showcase the real life figures, explaining what became of them, and gives visual justification for why Woody Harrelson is made to wear such an awful looking wig. It pays respect to those who were behind this battle, and is sadly the bow on a bloated feature with tiresome action sequences. By the end of it, all that makes this feature distinguishable from other War films is there being a character named Dick Best.