Windtalkers 2002

Critics score:
32 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Bruce Newman, 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. Read more

Leighton Walter Kille, Boston Globe: 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. Read more

Terry Lawson, 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. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: The script is riddled with so many cliches, you count on the battle scenes to wake you from your stupor. Read more

Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper: A relentless, bombastic and ultimately empty World War II action flick. Read more

Susan Stark, Detroit News: 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. Read more

Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune: It's the best new battle film since Black Hawk Down. Read more

Elvis Mitchell, 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. Read more

John Anderson, Newsday: You might need a decoder of your own to figure out what went awry with Windtalkers. Read more

Melanie McFarland, Seattle Times: This is one of the most intensely personal war films you will ever see. Read more

Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: For anyone in the mood for an unusual kind of war movie, Windtalkers is talking your language. Read more

Kenneth Turan, 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. Read more

Eric Harrison, Houston Chronicle: Woo makes Windtalkers his own by combining the style and concerns of his earlier work with retro-sounding music and other war-movie conventions. Read more

Paul Tatara, No amount of burning, blasting, stabbing, and shooting can hide a weak script. Read more

Steven Rosen, Denver Post: 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. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: Windtalkers blows this way and that, but there's no mistaking the filmmaker in the tall grass, true to himself. Read more

Rick Groen, 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. Read more

Philip Wuntch, 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. Read more

Ella Taylor, L.A. Weekly: With its dogged Hollywood naturalism and the inexorable passage of its characters toward sainthood, Windtalkers is nothing but a sticky-sweet soap. Read more

Peter Rainer, 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. Read more

Rex Reed, 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. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: 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. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: 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. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, 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. Read more

Mick LaSalle, 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. Read more

Jeff Strickler, Minneapolis Star Tribune: The history is fascinating; the action is dazzling. They just don't work in concert. Read more

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Read more

Geoff Pevere, Toronto Star: Although too simplistic, overly melodramatic and psychologically underdeveloped to be a great movie, Windtalkers is a perfectly good one. Read more

Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine: The energy and conviction of the action sequences don't quite compensate for Windtalkers' emotional cliches and historical heedlessness. Read more

Time Out: The screenwriters struggle to integrate the coded transmissions with the action, and the flamboyant set piece battles feel like so much empty rhetoric. Read more

Mike Clark, USA Today: 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. Read more

Robert Koehler, Variety: A powerful premise turned into a stubbornly flat, derivative war movie. Read more

J. Hoberman, Village Voice: At once chintzy and grandiose, awash in battlefield sentimentality and platoon cliches. Read more