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Film Review: “Midway” (2019) ★★★★


There has always been the issue of power-grab one way or another. One country wants to control the land of others so much more than anything else that it would result in a long-lasting war. As for the war, it is like a strategic game only the stronger side is supposed to win. WWII has many devastating moments that created momentum for heroes to shine at their best. We don’t know what would have happened if Japan of the 1940s won the war. But what we know is that never underestimate your target who has an opportunity to get back on its feet and fight back.

“Midway” is a war-drama that is based on true events. It touches upon real characters who had to make a tough decision to declare war against Japan. It’s June 2nd, 1942 and too hot to go out not because of the weather. After an attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, Chester W. Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) is assigned by the President himself to lead the war in the Pacific. Admiral Nimitz’s goal is to deliver the result. But will he make the same mistake as his predecessors and ignore the intelligence he receives that the Midway might be the second target for Japanese? This film is certainly not about that.

When the film opens, we meet Edward Layton (Patrick Wilson), US Intelligence officer meeting with Isoroku Yamamoto (Etsushi Toyokawa). During their brief exchange, it becomes obvious that Japan wants to become a world power. However, Yamamoto reassures Layton that Japan has no intention of having a war. This was in 1937. But four years later, we find out that Japan has already invaded other Asian nations whereas Hitler is ruining Europe, while the United States of America remains neutral. But the attack on Pearl Harbor that took place on December 7, 1941, makes the U.S. change their mind and get engaged in a deadly war in the Pacific with only one intention – whatever they do, Japan must feel the same level of heat Americans felt with Pearl Harbor.

But the most notable moment that will define the course of “Midway” is the line of Admiral Yamamoto who says the following, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve”. From that moment on, Roland Emmerich’s epic “Midway” will continue its quest to capture the most significant part of the WWII history, delivering a historically correct representation of events that changed the world forever. Both Americans and Japanese realize the significance of the battle, so the actual battle begins with not who is best equipped to win, but also the strategic thinking of the admirals and their decisions.

“Midway” has a stellar cast as you could imagine. Starting with Patrick Wilson and Woody Harrelson, it continues with even more impressive names such as Ed Skrein, Luke Evans, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid and, Aaron Eckhart. While the list itself is much longer, the film wins not because of the presence of the cast but the characters they portray. All of them were interesting, real, and important. Emmerich makes the right choice by not including an unnecessary love story that would certainly ruin the film. Also, no matter how well the film captures the air war in the Pacific, it puts the characters over the visual effects to let them paint a picture of history no advanced technology could possibly achieve.

In the end, “Midway” is more like a cinematic documentary. It leaves the cheesy part aside to have its full concentration on what makes war a war. Do not be discouraged with its running time, as towards the end you will feel the strength of it in its full force. As for the takeaway, the film does not serve as a messenger but plays an essential role in providing food for thought especially to those who love history lessons. War, by itself, is a messy game no one should ever get involved in. No matter how bad it is and how many lives it can claim, it still has its own beauty without which life would be incomplete. Because this is how true heroes are born.

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