Actress Rose Bryant
USS INDIANAPOLIS FILM REVIEW
This harrowing film, based on a true military story, is directed by Mario Van Peebles who also directed “Redemption Road” and the hit TV series “Hand of God”.
Nicolas Cage plays the USS Indianapolis ship commander, Captain Charles McVay. The movie opens in Okinawa in WWII on March 31, 1945 in a tantalizing and dramatic fashion with the USS Indianapolis taking immediate fire from Japanese aircraft. The Japanese warplanes attack the vessel, unsuccessfully on this mission, but the war continues.
The movie centers around the fateful mission to deliver the atomic bomb that would later decimate Hiroshima and contribute to the finale of the war. What is most significant, however, is that the United States Department of Defense recognized that this munition delivery was a suicide mission, therefore, they provided no destroyer escort to protect the vessel from foreign attack despite knowing it was likely imminent. Unbeknownst to the crew, they were indeed sacrificing themselves for their country – much like the enemy kamikaze pilots who gave their lives for Japan. In an ominous statement, Capt McVay mentions that “the Indianaoplis is a heavy cruiser designed to take out any ships and aircrafts, but our guns are useless agains submarines.” And despite multiple requests they were given no such protection due to their covert operation.
The ship was 13 years old, which is historically a symbol of bad luck to begin with, but the true foreboding moment comes when the engine room Chief tells his troops that they will be safe so long as the dove is safe. Unfortunately, he is corrected by a soldier who tells him that is “dove” is actually a pigeon. The Chief later follows up with the comment that “…if the Japs don’t get you, the sharks will.”
Ultimately, the delivery is successful but prophecy comes to bear when the Japanese torpedoes tore through the USS Indianapolis upon return with devastating accuracy. The attention to detail in these attack scenes, while everyone is fighting to save their ship and their lives, were absolutely excruciating to watch but speaks highly to the cinematic effort of the production. The gripping moments watching American naval troops drown while apologizing for their transgressions, and seeing the boat split in two, is much akin to “The Titanic”. The viewer can definitely feel the angst and trauma of the men trapped in an unforgiving situation.
The damage to the ship, and the loss of life, was so significant that the Captain ordered abandon ship almost immediately while he stayed aboard until the last blast sent him into the ocean. Although Nicolas Cage is very believable as the vessel’s captain for the bulk of the film, it felt that he played it too calm during the ship’s demise in light of the fatal circumstances. Cooler heads must prevail but it didn’t feel organic. Regardless the ship is sunk in just four minutes – four mins of torturous hell wherein men were expected to bail on the ship they called home, and worry about the security and sanctity of the life they were willing to sacrifice for. (902 remaining of 1196)
Somehow the crew was able to send out an SOS signal despite the radios being down and complete chaos during the attack, yet many lost their lives despite their efforts. However, the treachery was yet to come as those who survived were now sitting ducks in an ocean of carnivores. And their own country didn’t even try to protect them.
As the foreshadowing surmised, the sharks started eating the Naval men immediately. Although these scenes are disturbing, they did demonstrate a “Jaws” like quality that the viewer can identify with.
The soundtrack is both beautiful and heartbreaking; a talented, emotional mess. The submarine sinking had great production value reminiscent of the “Titanic”. And then the havoc continued….
No spoiler alerts here, but the beginning is riveting and full of action sequences, however, the second half is full of emotion, sacrifice, humility, and demise. However, there are touching moments of humanity. Even in a time when races were divided, they found common humanity. Helping each other survive the worst elements a person could ever be subject to. In face of adversity NC held true to his constitutional requirements as a naval officer.