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(Review originally written at 20 April 2007)

No wonder that this movie became nowhere a success. It was made at a time when dozens of war movies were being made every year. This movie adds very little extra to the genre and offers few surprises or insight information about things we didn't knew yet.

Also problem is that the movie just isn't much interesting because very little is actually happening in it. Just analyze this movie for a moment. Is it really the interesting story approach of the prisoners starting a school and start learning about so called 'deeper' philosophies. And here also lays a problem. The movie is toward the end trying to get philosophical and with deeper meanings in it but due to the way of film-making it feels too forced and because of that it gets overdone and works ineffective.

All of the genre clichés you could expect from a movie like this are present here; A mean camp commander, a more friendly guard, escapes and escape plans, one group of people who wants to escape and others who want to stay put and the list goes on. Of course I understand that its hard to be original with a concept of a movie set entirely in a POW-camp but they at least could had put in some more surprises and less formulaic characters.

Also the casting didn't helped much. Whose bright idea was it to cast Ciarán McMenamin (who?) as the main character. The movie is further more filled with some well known actors such as Robert Carlyle, Kiefer Sutherland and James Cosmo but it all makes you wonder; wouldn't they characters be just as effective and good if they were being played by lesser known actors? The actors performances just don't add enough to the characters and their development. You can see that this movie is a waste of such a fine cast.

The characters are also one of the problems I had with this movie. They don't ever fully get developed and you just never feel close or attached to any of them. I once again results in the fact that the emotions of the movie don't work out because you quite frankly just don't care.

The movie also isn't very effective with showing how brutal and hopeless the situations in the camps were. The lacks a certain atmosphere of danger and perhaps even is too light on the subject, despite having some violent and cruel sequences in it. But all of those moments are rather predictable and you can sense them coming from miles away. It makes them ineffective and also makes the movie feel all the more formulaic and forced.

The movie doesn't look cheap but it feels like a cheap one nevertheless, due to some lame camera-positions and editing techniques at times. Also the fact that the movie begins almost immediately set in the POW camp just doesn't work out effective. It just makes you feel cheated that you missed out all of the action, which obviously occurred but wasn't shown on screen. Lots of cruel things are happening to the characters but problem is that we don't know them yet, so to say it boldly, why should we care what happens? The directing and choices they made just aren't much good and I doubt we'll ever hear some big things from director David L. Cunningham in the future.

But obviously this movie is of cause much better than just your average B-war movie. It's definitely a watchable movie but really not deserving of the high rating and praise it is currently receiving on here. It's a watchable but above all a very redundant movie that adds nothing new to the genre.

I just don't see how this movie does do any justice to the real POW, by the Japanese during WW II. This movie offers nothing more than formulaic entertainment with drama that feels too forced and overdone to find this movie ever credible or powerful, despite it all being based on true events.

6/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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