Ed Skrein and Mandy Moore in “Midway” (Photo Credit: Reiner Bajo).
‘Midway’ is Lightweight in Comparison to Other WWII Films
Hollywood has created great World War II movies like “Hacksaw Ridge.”
Hollywood has made some very good World War II movies like “Tuskegee Airmen.”
Furthermore, Hollywood has made some good World War II movies like “Red Tails.”
Unfortunately, “Midway” falls into the middle of the pack of World War II movies and falls more in line with “Pearl Harbor” than it does with some of the greats like “Hacksaw Ridge.”
In the beginning of World War II, America stayed neutral.
While Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime took over Europe and Japan began to annex parts of China, America did not have a dog in the fight.
However, all of that changed on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked American troops at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
But before that day that lives on infamy to quote former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, America had an amicable relationship with Japan.
In “Midway,” Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson, “The Commuter”) has immersed himself so much in the Japanese culture and language that he knows that the attack on Pearl Harbor will happen.
Layton’s problem is that none of his superiors in Washington, D.C. believe his intelligence on Japan, and countless unsuspecting members of the American military lose their lives on that December day in 1941.
But when the day of infamy occurs, suddenly Layton’s skills at cracking Japanese codes and deciphering their next move is the only thing that stands in the way of the Japanese taking over the entire West Coast of the United States.
Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, and subsequent attacks, have the potential of changing the course of American history, as we know it.
Just imagine if cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle belonged to Japan and not America?
Japan annexing parts of the Untied States would be similar to Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine.
As a result of a superior military, sovereign nations sometimes fall under the jurisdiction of an occupying power.
Instead of speaking English and embracing American culture, the West Coast would have had to assimilate into Japanese culture and answer to the emperor of the Asian nation, instead of enjoying democratic freedoms.
But that fear is why many valiant and brave Americans sign up to defend their country.
When many look only to preserve their personal way of life, true American heroes put their personal ambitions on the side to do what is best for their country even if they know their life is in peril.
Such is the case for Lieutenant Richard “Dick” Best (Ed Skrein, “If Beale Street Could Talk”).
Sure, Best would love to spend less time on base and more time with his wife and kids, but that is not what he signed up for in “Midway.”
Best signed up for a life of service and sacrifice.
And even if Best has to sacrifice his life for his colleagues and country, he is willing to do that.
While other soldiers are having a good time on the Pearl Harbor base, Best is preparing for every possible situation that might come during war.
He practices landing his plane without his engine because he never knows when that skill will become valuable.
His approach to warfare is fearless, so much so that one of his co-pilots does not want to fly with him because it is as if Best does not care if he lives or dies.
But his fearlessness is coupled with compassion.
When one of Best’s buddies from the Naval Academy goes down fighting their Japanese adversaries, Best is the one that goes to identify the body in order to inform his wife.
When fellow soldiers want to toast the life of their fallen compatriot, Best delivers heartfelt words about his best man and the godfather of his daughter.
But despite his tender heart, the young Naval Academy graduate might have the softest spot for his country and exacting revenge on those coldhearted Japanese soldiers that forced America into World War II.
Thankfully, the revenge-obsessed Best has his opportunity to avenge his losses when Layton discovers that the Japanese have plans to hit the Americans at Midway.
But despite Layton’s proven track record, and the support and respect of Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson, “The Highway Men”), it still takes some convincing to persuade Washington, D.C. to give the go-ahead for America to strike Japan first in the battle of Midway.
And even if America strikes Japan first at Midway, it does not guarantee success and no causalities or injuries, because war is obviously unpredictable.
“Midway” is not a bad movie.
It just does not do a good job of distancing itself from truly great war movies like “Hacksaw Ridge” starring Andrew Garfield.
The war scenes in “Midway” come across cartoonish and not realistic.
In “Hacksaw Ridge,” the fighting scenes become almost too graphic because they are so realistic.
While hard to watch, the fighting scenes in “Hacksaw Ridge” give a true depiction of the atrocities of war.
But the war scenes in “Midway” lean more towards the war scenes in “Red Tails.”
Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. told RegalMag.com that “Red Tails” was like an amusement park ride in comparison to other war movies.
“Midway” comes across in the same vein.
Furthermore, “Midway” does not contain any spectacular performances despite having some heavy hitters in Harrelson, Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore and Luke Evans.
Additionally, “Midway” features an adequate performance from pop music star Nick Jonas of The Jonas Brothers, who portrays Bruno Gaido.
Bruno’s carefree attitude is probably what is needed for someone who faces the possibility of death on a daily basis.
But what saves “Midway” is the intense ending.
For all of the shortcomings of “Midway,” the conclusion makes up for the lightweight meat of the film.
But the conclusion of “Midway” is not enough to make the film great because its predecessors have done much more from an acting perspective and an action perspective.