Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
San Jose Mercury News:
Despite the movie's overly simplistic view of the bigotry the Navajos faced in the military ... Windtalkers speaks of a love between men who have come to a place willing to die together.
Leighton Walter Kille,
Woo wanted the film to be realistic, and it is. The violence is unrelenting, the uniforms are dirty and mismatched, the weapons are shiny from use, the soldiers are exhausted, sick, sad.
Detroit Free Press:
The only time Windtalkers doesn't go by the book is when Woo feels compelled to remind in-the-know moviegoers that he's John Woo: birds artfully flapping their wings, grass swaying, blood spurting, Joe staring soulfully into his personal abyss.
The script is riddled with so many cliches, you count on the battle scenes to wake you from your stupor.
Directed without the expected flair or imagination by Hong Kong master John Woo, Windtalkers airs just about every cliche in the war movie compendium across its indulgent two-hour-and-fifteen-minute length.
New York Times:
We can only view Windtalkers with the same shaken detachment that characterizes Mr. Cage's Joe Enders, wishing that the codetalkers' real story, a little known and fascinating chunk of American history, had been given its true dramatic import.
You might need a decoder of your own to figure out what went awry with Windtalkers.
This is one of the most intensely personal war films you will ever see.
Los Angeles Times:
Throwing in everything except someone pulling the pin from a grenade with his teeth, Windtalkers seems to have ransacked every old World War II movie for overly familiar material.
Woo makes Windtalkers his own by combining the style and concerns of his earlier work with retro-sounding music and other war-movie conventions.
No amount of burning, blasting, stabbing, and shooting can hide a weak script.
I wish Windtalkers had had more faith in the dramatic potential of this true story. This would have been better than the fiction it has concocted, and there still could have been room for the war scenes.
Windtalkers blows this way and that, but there's no mistaking the filmmaker in the tall grass, true to himself.
Globe and Mail:
By my count, there are four separate films unspooling here. Individually, given half a chance, any one of them might have been good; but collectively, squeezed together and underdeveloped, they don't really add up.
Dallas Morning News:
The screenplay sabotages the movie's strengths at almost every juncture. All the characters are stereotypes, and their interaction is numbingly predictable.
With its dogged Hollywood naturalism and the inexorable passage of its characters toward sainthood, Windtalkers is nothing but a sticky-sweet soap.
New York Magazine/Vulture:
I kept wishing I was watching a documentary about the wartime Navajos and what they accomplished instead of all this specious Hollywood hoo-ha.
New York Observer:
It's like the first 25 minutes of Saving Private Ryan stretched over two hours. I liked it a lot, but the weak and the skittish are hereby warned.
This film proves that more is needed than visceral displays of battle carnage, digitally amplified gunfire and explosions, and a camera that won't keep still.
The Navajo code talkers have waited a long time to have their story told. Too bad it appears here merely as a gimmick in an action picture.
Windtalkers is shapelessly gratifying, the kind of movie that invites you to pick apart its faults even as you have to admit that somehow it hit you where you live.
San Francisco Chronicle:
Despite some feints in a soulful direction, the picture has none of the interior quality of a multifaceted war film like Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line.
Although too simplistic, overly melodramatic and psychologically underdeveloped to be a great movie, Windtalkers is a perfectly good one.
The energy and conviction of the action sequences don't quite compensate for Windtalkers' emotional cliches and historical heedlessness.
The screenwriters struggle to integrate the coded transmissions with the action, and the flamboyant set piece battles feel like so much empty rhetoric.
Windtalkers is capably made and certainly impresses by carrying its length, but it doesn't expand 60 years of World War II screen literature by very much.
A powerful premise turned into a stubbornly flat, derivative war movie.
At once chintzy and grandiose, awash in battlefield sentimentality and platoon cliches.