I had half a sense of what "Rescue Dawn" was about, but it had Christian Bale and Steve Zahn, so I figured it was worth a go. (And yes, I realize that's very much playing into the notion that the star-power can make or break a film, but c'mon, who didn't enjoy Bale as the American Psycho?).
"Rescue Dawn" is the biographical true story of U.S. Navy pilot Dieter Dengler, flying his first mission over Laos in 1965 during the onset of the Viet Nam war. He's shot down and crashes the plane, refusing to bail out, and is soon captured and help captive with five other American POWs. Dieter manages to maintain the mens' morale, form a plan to escape, and lead the plan to reality.
In a time where the nation's military is actively engaged in combat, it can be a delicate balance of showing the horrors of war whilst not playing it up as all bad (lest we look un-American or undermine the recruitment efforts taking place in high schools and shopping malls across the country). Rather than take a political stand, writer/director Werner Herzog opts to focus on the struggle of Dieter against his captors and how he overcomes the oppression of the circumstance.
The escape plan and the limited release date both running on July 4th had a nod to patriotism. (From a personal perspective, I also am welcoming anything that's not one of the several summer sequel flicks on the screens these past few months.) The production itself is fairly low-tech, no dramatic CGI or special effects to deliver a decent film.
What "Rescue Dawn" -- which is the code words Dieter needs to confirm his identity to U.S. forces to ensure he's who he claims -- does lack, and in all honestly, should lack, is a fast-moving storyline. He and the others were prisoners for some time, and this is not a flashy escape with lots of explosions... rent yourself "The Great Raid" from 2005. If you're ready for a story of triumph over unlikely odds, grab a seat and settle in for the experience.