(based on the novel by Richard Matheson):
This film from the Vietnam War by veteran
German virtuoso Werner Herzog can be placed in the 'relatively based on
a true story' category. It's his fictional follow-up to the 1997
documentary Little Dieter Needs To Fly in which we meet the
German-born Dieter Dengler who crashed during a mission for Air America
during the Vietnam War and was captured by the Pathet Lao who tortured
and incarcerated him together with six other POWs fighting on American
The strength of Rescue Dawn is the
obvious power of the destinies we meet here, and the feat of Mr.
Dengler. However, the artistic execution by Herzog is disappointing. He
is too lenient in the film's initial phase when the film would have
profited on a better introduction of the gallery of characters. This
goes especially for the Dieter Dengler character who really doesn't come
into his own until the final half of the film. By then, it is the
compelling, reticent friendship between Dieter and Duane and their
primal fight for survival that propels the film forward. And in the end,
Herzog seems to reap his own achievement just as much as Mr. Dengler's.
Christian Bale has long been known for being a master with accents.
Unfortunately, his Dieter Dengler has nothing German to him - neither in
accent or ways. With a little more effort from Bale through Herzog,
Rescue Dawn could have stood out instead of fall into line.