"A True Story of Hope and Survival"
What You Need To Know:
Based on a true story, RESCUE DAWN features excellent acting and a captivating story, but the movie drags at points due to a lack of drama and action. It contains an uplifting and patriotic message about those who have fought and suffered for our freedoms. It also has an accurately negative depiction of the abusive Communists who run the POW camp. However, there are some negative elements, including plenty of foul language and some strong violence, so MOVIEGUIDE® recommends extreme caution.
(BB, PP, ACAC, C, Pa, H, LLL, VV, N, D, M) Strong moral worldview extolling heroism and bravery with strong patriotic, pro-American and anti-Communist elements as prisoners of war struggle to survive in POW camp run by abusive Communists during Vietnam War, plus some light Christian elements and light references to God as protagonist briefly prays, “God, we need rain,” and other characters say, “God bless America,” which are mitigated by a use of foul language and some humanist elements where protagonist relies mostly on his own abilities and those of others to escape POW camp and gives a somewhat evasive reply when he is asked, “Was your faith in God and country?”; 20 obscenities (one "f" word) and 11 profanities as well as some name calling (i.e., idiot, etc.) and several characters lose bowel control in their pants; moderately strong violence includes buildings exploding during an air raid at Laos, a depicted plane crash, man is captured and tortured such as being tied to a bull and dragged and being tied face-first to a bee-hive, prisoners are continuously tied and bound in a POW camp, some gunfire and men are shot in a raid, a man’s thigh is cut by a machete, then he is beheaded but the camera cuts away, and man captures and eats a snake; no explicit sexual content although one character makes mention of wanting to visit a “massage parlor”; naturalistic upper male nudity in POW camp; no alcohol; Vietnamese child smokes on a pipe; and, miscellaneous immorality includes one prisoner is deceptive with other prisoners.
RESCUE DAWN tells the true story of U.S. fighter pilot Dieter Dengler, played by Christian Bale, who is shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War. Taken captive as a prisoner of war, Dengler, along with several other POWs, must struggle to survive as they organize an incredible and deadly escape.
Merely a rookie, Dieter gets shot down while flying his first mission. After enduring a grueling trek through the jungles of Vietnam, a trek that includes being tortured, being dragged by a bull and being tied face-first to a beehive, Dieter is finally delivered to the place he may very well spend the rest of his life, a desolate POW camp.
The camp is also home to a handful of other captives, some of who have been there for a couple of years already. Still fresh-faced and hopeful, Dieter immediately sets his sights on formulating an escape plan. His determination and unbroken spirit are a welcome dynamic to the others – especially Dieter’s newfound friend, Duane.
Orchestrating a death-defying scheme, Dieter and the others, including Duane and four Asian prisoners, take the guards, flee the camp and escape into the jungle. That is when the real escape begins. The other prisoners take their own route to freedom, but Dieter and Duane remain together. Their bond keeps them strong as they battle the jungle elements and hopelessness in order to find freedom.
Based on the true story of Dieter Dengler and written and directed by Werner Herzog, RESCUE DAWN is a more dramatic version of Herzog’s earlier documentary, LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY. The story is well told, and the actors must all be commended for their dedication to their roles. Christian Bale, along with all the other POWs, lost over 40 pounds for their roles. Each actor showed their commitment to this story, a story of bravery and heroism and hope in the face of hopelessness. Faltering just a little in Herzog’s style of directing, the lack of action sometimes feels much more like a documentary and a lot less like a dramatic movie. Also, because of the pace of the storytelling and with a running time of just over two hours, the movie drags at points. Some editing could have quickened the pace.
The movie contains an uplifting and patriotic message about those who have fought and suffered for our freedoms. It also has an accurately negative depiction of the abusive Communists who run the POW camp. However, there are some elements, including plenty of foul language and some strong violence, which may be a little strong for certain audiences, so MOVIEGUIDE® recommends extreme caution.