THE GREAT RAID | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
John Dahl's World War II drama feels like a throwback to the men-of-valor films of the 1940s and '50s. This is an earnest re-telling of a military operation in 1945, when a small troop of Rangers freed hundreds of American POWs held by the Japanese lines on Bataan peninsula. The commanding officer (Benjamin Bratt) is square-jawed, and as befits an old-school war opera, the Japanese are nothing less than sadistic brutes. For modern sensitivity, the film offers the emaciated Joseph Fiennes, de facto commander of the POWs. The Great Raid is wholly predictable, though entertaining enough if you prefer war pics that feature more planning than shooting. "Inspired by true events" always raises a cautionary flag toward veracity, but the film concludes with extraordinary documentary footage of the camp's liberation and the POWs' exuberant return to San Francisco -- silent, grainy black-and-white images a thousand times more emotionally powerful than any Hollywood re-imagining. (AH)

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