Film Review – Midway (2019)

Title – Midway (2019)

Director – Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow)

Cast – Ed Skrein, Luke Evans, Nick Jonas, Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Dennis Quaid, Aaron Eckhart, Mandy Moore

Plot – The true story of the WW2 battle of Midway, as daredevil pilot Dick Best (Skrein) and his fellow Americans set about the seemingly impossible task of defeating the Japanese emperor that had made its move during their attack on Pearl Harbor.

“Men like Dick Best are the reason we’re going to win this war”

Review by Eddie on 10/02/2020

Subtle filmmaking is not something you expect from the man behind Godzilla, Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow and in the spirit of keeping true to form, director Roland Emmerich ensures Midway is best when its spectacle is taking centre stage as it attempts to shine a spotlight on the famed WW2 battle.

Already the subject of many a feature film and documentary, the battle that shaped the outcome of the great war is loaded with plotlines, battles within battles and more real life hero’s than an Avengers film and Emmerich at times struggles with the nuances that are required when you’re telling such a convoluted and incendiary tale but with his heart in the right place and with a constantly moving pace, Midway is a perfectly watchable effort that may not hold up to scrutiny but provides great entertainment value as it’s occurring before our eyes.

Filled with one of the most recognisable low A to B-grade group of actors that one could hope to assemble in today’s climate, with the rent a bad boy Ed Skrein leading the charge around the likes of Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Luke Evans and the should’ve stayed at home token female Mandy Moore, Midway does feel like one of those awkwardly budgeted Hollywood event films that co-collaboration with Chinese film investors has seen it gather up $70-$80 million of funds to produce some slightly above game-like graphics in its set pieces but thanks to the true story as its foundation, it’s hard to ever hate or be disinterested in proceedings even if Wes Tooke’s cheese laden script work attempts to derail things whenever the aerial battles are not front and centre.

Lucky for the film, Emmerich’s action flair often gets Midway up and about as we follow Skrein and his fellow pilots across a selection of daring battles in the Pacific and while we don’t often care too much for the cardboard cut-out characters that Tooke and Emmerich have brought to life, we understand the heroism and daring of these men that risked their lives in often horribly outnumbered underdog battles.

As a piece of big screen spectacle, the sky-bound action and thrilling sea battles that form a large portion of Midway’s runtime make sure that you feel as though you’re getting your monies worth with the simplistic storytelling and more old-fashioned approach to the story by Emmerich likely to please those that found the likes of Dunkirk and 1917 too technically focused to be fist-pumping inspiring.

It’s a shame however that Midway didn’t attempt to fine tune its quieter moments to build more emotional investment in its array of participants and figures as had it refined it storytelling and approached its material in a more considered manner, it’s likely this watchable but forgettable examination of history defining moments would’ve been the hit it so easily could’ve been.

Final Say –

A typical Emmerich like affair, Midway is sure to please those seeking a surface deep look at the renowned WW2 battle that includes some thrilling action moments but Midway’s lack strong emotion or character building holds back its chances of being something genuinely special.

3 heroic deck-hands out of 5

4 responses to “Film Review – Midway (2019)

  1. I liked this movie. Felt like a good “old school” action WWII flick. However, it was way too many moving parts and characters. Should’ve been done as a mini-series than theatrical motion picture.

  2. You’ve got a typo sneaked in there; ‘….by Emmerich likely to please those that found the likes of Dunkirk and 1917 to technically focused to be fist-pumping inspiring.’ should be ‘too technically focused..’. But other than that, great review for a film I’m almost afraid to watch.

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