With its thoroughly patriotic war action film MIDWAY Director Roland Emmerich takes his production back to the 1990s. And as absurd and ridiculous as the events on screen sometimes seem, you also have to give the filmmaker a lot of respect. We reveal why in our review.
Dick (Ed Skrein) and his wife Ann Best (Mandy Moore).
The plot summary
Pacific, June 4-7, 1942: Democracy and freedom are at stake when, after the unforeseen attack on Pearl Harbor, a decisive confrontation occurs in the remote Midway Islands in which the numerically weakened US Navy and Air Force overcome all odds defies to face an opponent who is superior in every way. At the center of this maneuver: Lieutenant Richard ‘Dick’ Best (Ed Skrein), who has not been fighting at the front for long, but is already facing the challenge of his life with this mission. He becomes a role model for the flying squadron under his command. With courage, extraordinary determination and historically unprecedented combat skills, they confront the Imperial Japanese Navy in a breathtaking air and sea battle that is intended to mark the decisive turning point of the Pacific War…
Midway Movie Meaning & ending
Roland Emmerich took his first steps as a film director on (West) German soil, but he only made a name for himself when he directed major disaster blockbusters for Hollywood such as “Independence Day”, “The Day after Tomorrow” and “2012”. All of these films became huge successes – and Emmerich has remained true to his line to this day, even if that means that he recently announced that he now quite regrets his failed alien invasion sequel “Independence Day 2” . Three years have passed since then. Ten since his last real hit “2012”. His drama “Stonewall” , which was respected in the gay scene but flopped at the box office , was just as poorly received as “White House Down”, which was more in Emmerich’s métier (and immensely underestimated!) and which at least made a little more than its production costs. However, a $150 million project should have brought in significantly more money than $200 million – especially considering the star power involved in the project. Now it almost seems as if Emmerich is going back in time and setting his career to zero for his latest film “Midway” – and that is to be understood literally in every respect. His film seems like a relic from a time long past, when war heroes still went to the front with their chests swollen and were allowed to shout their dream of victory at the camera every few minutes. That’s thoroughly questionable – and yet you just can’t completely trash “Midway.”
Woody Harrelson as Admiral Chester Nimitz.
Nevertheless, it would be easy to count out “Midway” for all its weaknesses. And these are not primarily found in the visual presentation. Here it quickly becomes apparent that the film breathes the air of early Nineties war actioners through and through in terms of content, but is actually from 2019. Hardly anything is made by hand here anymore. The spent explosions – and there are several of them – all come from the computer. Flames of fire, crashing planes, the hustle and bustle on aircraft carriers: all of this seems artificial, the sets with their completely overlit television optics never seem like big blockbuster cinema. With a budget of $100 million, “Midway” certainly wasn’t cheap. Of course, you can’t blow up dozens and dozens of planes or ships for a film project. But with the help of modern trick technique standards, at least various other projects make it look believable. Here, on the other hand, the computer-designed fantasy of a war battlefield never comes to fruition. And when a handful of young recruits have to climb from one ship over a burning abyss to the other ship and some of the soldiers fall into the flaming depths, the use of the green screen really jumps out at you. Yes, perhaps the makers have overreached themselves a little here – at least “Midway” seems like a quick shot, with a little more CGI effort (or of course the use of haptic effects) in conjunction with more budget – at least visually – significantly more would have made.
Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that Emmerich creates an action spectacle in “Midway” that only directors like him (and perhaps Michael Bay) would dare to achieve this kind of escapism these days; especially in combination with the topic. Because it has to be made clear: “Midway” is at no time an anti-war film, but rather a war film that proudly carries its patriotic concerns forward , with its heroes saying various meaningful “I love my country” over the course of the 138-minute plot and the war!” sentences and be allowed to “rip their asses off” of their opponents. Even though “Midway” is only Emmerich’s second film about war after “The Patriot” from 2000, and the director and screenwriter has previously worked primarily in the segment of destruction cinema caused by nature (and not by man), he knows Filmmaker knows exactly which buttons he has to press in order to turn the cinema into a place of ceremony for over two hours for all those who have perhaps always wanted to fight for their country (or have even fought) and are now united want to plunge into the fray of war again with the soldiers portrayed here – after all, the film is based on true events and characters and ends with a thank you plaque to all those who fought in the Battle of the Midway Islands. Irritating: Although the script by Wes Tookes (“Colony”) always clearly positions itself on the side of the US soldiers, the Japanese opponents are granted a very kitschy exit – one of various questionable decisions.
Nevertheless, “Midway” cannot be written down completely, which is primarily due to the fact that Emmerich celebrates this form of war cinema with absolute sincerity. The more absurd sayings the characters acting on the screen (and of course having no character background apart from their love of country) utter, the more one grants the film itself its almost ritualistic celebration of the war; almost like in “Law of Vengeance”, which the main actor Gerard Butler and director F. Gary Gray always thought was a serious discussion of the topic of vigilantism, but in reality they simply made a stupid (albeit hellishly entertaining) plea for violence . It’s very similar with “Midway”. Self-sacrificing and with – in the truest sense of the word – zeal, Emmerich shows us a plea for armed patriotism, in which the question never even begins to arise that war is cruel. Despite all the shaking of the head, such consistency has to be rewarded. And probably only with a director like Roland Emmerich, who just likes to blow things up on a large scale. That doesn’t make “Midway” any less questionable and we can’t avoid emphasizing that this film is not good. But you can’t deny that it’s pretty entertaining. For anyone who can get involved in this moral dilemma (and the bad effects), “Midway” is almost a recommendation.
Conclusion: Back to the nineties, when films like “Midway” could and were still allowed to be made – these dumb, patriotic war actioners have not lost their appeal, even if they looked much better than they do here.
“Midway” can be seen in USA cinemas from November 7th.