[Screen It]


(2002) (Nicolas Cage, Adam Beach) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Mild Mild Extreme None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
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Action/Drama: A Marine is assigned to protect a Navajo radioman and the secret code he uses as their unit tries to take the island of Saipan during WWII.
Joe Enders (NICOLAS CAGE) is a decorated WWII Marine who's troubled by the fact that he was the lone survivor in his unit during a battle on the Solomon Islands. After recuperating in a Hawaiian hospital with the aid of a pretty nurse, Rita (FRANCES O'CONNOR), Joe returns to active duty but still carries the physical and mental scars of his past experiences.

He's then promoted to sergeant and assigned to a special mission where he and others, including Sgt. Pete "Ox" Anderson (CHRISTIAN SLATER), are to protect various Navajo who've been recruited to use their language as code to confuse the Japanese forces. Among them are Ben Yahzee (ADAM BEACH) and Charlie Whitehorse (ROGER WILLIE) from Arizona, who must not only learn how to translate and transmit the code under fire, but must also put up with racist remarks from the likes of Chick (NOAH EMMERICH), a fellow Marine.

Under the command of Gunnery Sergeant Hjelmstad (PETER STORMARE), the Marines, including Pappas (MARK RUFFALO), Harrigan (BRIAN VAN HOLT), Nellie (MARTIN HENDERSON) and others, storm the Japanese island of Saipan, where 30,000 enemy forces are reportedly dug in and prepared to fight to the death to defend their land.

From that point on, the various American forces come under heavy fire and must use every resource - including the secret code transmitted and received by the code talkers - in their effort to take the island.

Those who are into war movies or are fans of someone in the cast or director John Woo's films ("Mission: Impossible 2," "Hard-Boiled") just might want to see it, but the likeliest audience among kids will probably be male teens.
For pervasive graphic war violence, and for language.
  • NICOLAS CAGE plays a Marine who returns to duty after being injured in an earlier battle. Scarred (physically and emotionally), he reluctantly takes the assignment of protecting Ben and the code. He smokes, drinks (to the point of being drunk), uses strong profanity and kills many people in the heat of battle.
  • ADAM BEACH plays a Navajo who enlists in the Marines to be a code talker radioman. Although initially reluctant to take anyone's life, he eventually does so in the heat of battle. He uses some strong profanity and smokes.
  • ROGER WILLIE plays his Navajo friend who also serves as a code talker and kills many enemy soldiers.
  • CHRISTIAN SLATER plays the Marine assigned to protect Charlie who kills various enemy soldiers and uses some profanity.
  • PETER STORMARE plays their commander who won't hear of Joe quitting when he wants to.
  • NOAH EMMERICH plays a fellow Marine who has a blatant racist attitude toward Ben and Charlie, but eventually has a change of heart.
  • MARK RUFFALO plays another Marine who uses strong profanity and is prone to hyperventilating when excited.
  • BRIAN VAN HOLT and MARTIN HENDERSON play additional Marines in the unit.
  • FRANCES O'CONNOR plays a nurse who befriends Joe while he recuperates in the hospital and repeatedly sends him letters while he's on the front-line.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    Here's a quick look at the film's content. Profanity consists of at least 11 "f" words, while various other expletives and colorful phrases are uttered, while some mild, sexually related comments are also made. Violence consists of a tremendous amount of war-related action where many people are killed by gunfire, various explosions, being stabbed, decapitated, etc. Some of that violence has rather bloody and/or gory results, and such scenes and others may be unsettling or suspenseful to viewers.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes (including racist ones), while some characters smoke and/or drink (one to the point of being intoxicated). Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

  • We see a bottle of liquor on a table where various Marines are playing poker, and Joe drinks some.
  • Various marines drink beer and/or liquor before shipping out, and Joe and Rita drink shots of rum.
  • Joe drinks rice wine (and appears intoxicated) and offers some to Ben who also drinks it, but doesn't like the taste.
  • Joe occasionally takes some sort of pills for pain (and then gives one to an injured child), and morphine is later given to a wounded man.
  • We see a dead man floating in some shallow water with various bloody wounds on his body.
  • We briefly see a person's bloody arm after their hand has been cut off and moments later, part of a person's leg is blown off. Others wounded or killed during the first combat scene are bloody (but most of the deaths are bloodless).
  • We see Joe with some bad scars on his ear and neck from combat wounds.
  • We see a black and white photo of a dead Navajo who was tortured and has blood on his face and clothing.
  • People shot and wounded or killed during a battle are bloody to varying degrees, and Ben is forced to put his hand on a man's very bloody chest wound (and then has that blood on his hand).
  • Chick has some blood from his lip after a fight.
  • More people who are shot or hit by artillery have varying degrees of bloody wounds.
  • A man's leg is blown off by an explosion (and we see the bloody stump).
  • We see a young boy with some bloody scrapes on his face.
  • A man is suddenly shot in the shoulder and blood squirts out and the same happens when he's then shot in the leg.
  • A man's chest is bloody as is the knife that killed him.
  • Various soldiers have blood on them.
  • A man is decapitated (we don't see the impact, but do briefly see his severed head).
  • A dead man is bloody.
  • Joe has some blood on him.
  • More people who are wounded or killed in another battle are bloody (with some blood occasionally seen squirting out upon impact or being in the victims' mouths), including one man whose shirt is opened to reveal more blood.
  • We hear that Joe has a checkered past (charged with assault and battery, stealing a motorcycle, fathering a child out of wedlock, etc.).
  • An officer refers to some of his Marine men as "ladies."
  • Joe has a cold attitude toward Ben.
  • Chick has racist attitudes toward Ben and Charlie (calling them "Injuns" and "Chief," whinnying when Whitehorse's name is announced and calling Ben a "slanty-eyed savage") and even picks a fight with Ben.
  • The Japanese are portrayed as having both for being the enemy, and various disparaging period nicknames are used for them including "Japs" and "Nips."
  • Rita helps Joe cheat on a hearing test so that he'll pass his physical and be able to return to active duty.
  • A colonel recognizes Joe's bravery, but doesn't do the same for Ben even when Joe brings attention to him.
  • Chick tells the story of an older generation in his family going out and hunting for Indians as if they were game.
  • The various combat scenes listed under "Violence" and bloody/gory results listed under "Blood/Gore" may be disturbing and/or suspenseful to viewers.
  • One such scene has Joe and his remaining men being surrounded and running out of ammo as they try to hold off the various attacking enemy soldiers.
  • Ben decides to pose as a Japanese soldier with Joe acting as his prisoner so that they can infiltrate the enemy forces and use a radio. As they do this, some viewers will worry that their ruse will be discovered, especially when the real Japanese beat Joe.
  • There are several scenes where various Marines must decide whether to kill the code talkers (under previous orders) rather than allow them to fall into enemy hands. In one, one doesn't, in another, the Marine does, and in a third, the Navajo pulls another man's gun to his head and tells him to do it (he doesn't).
  • As the men walk along, they suddenly realize they're in the middle of a minefield (with one man nearly stepping on one) and then have the enemy open fire on them.
  • Joe and his men find themselves surrounded and running out of ammo during another battle.
  • Machine guns/Handguns/Rifles/Bayonets/Knives/Hand Grenades/Bazooka/Flame throwers/Various forms of artillery/Fighter planes/Battleships: Used to threaten, wound or kill many people (and/or blow up things). See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "No f*cking idea," "F*ck it," "How the f*cking hell should I know?" "F*cking sh*tbird," "I'm a good f*cking marine," "What the f*ck?" "Do you believe that sh*t?" "Sure as sh*t," "No sh*t," "Surprised the sh*t out of you," "I don't give a sh*t," "Sh*tty," "Horsesh*t," "Cut that horsesh*t out," "Shooting the sh*t," "Sh*thole," "Screwy," "Japs" and "Nips" (American terms for Japanese during WWII), "Thumbs up our asses," "Injun" and "Chief" (Chick's term for Ben and Charlie"), "What the hell's wrong with you?" "Jeez," "Stay on my ass" (nonsexual), "Ass kicker," "What the hell /do you think you're doing/are you talking about?" "I'll kick your ass," "How the hell are you?" "Shut up," "Scrawny ass," and "Balls" (testicles).
  • Chick spits at Ben and has a racist attitude toward him.
  • Sudden machine gun fire in a quiet scene might startle some viewers.
  • A man is suddenly shot in the shoulder during a quiet moment.
  • An extreme amount of suspenseful and ominous music plays in the film.
  • None.
  • At least 11 "f" words, 24 "s" words, 15 asses (2 used with "hole"), 15 hells, 12 damns, 4 S.O.B.s, 2 craps, 11 uses of "G-damn," 2 of "Jesus," and 1 use each of "Christ," "God," "Jesus Christ" and "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • When Pappas states that he hyperventilates and can't breathe when excited, another Marine jokingly responds that such a condition must be hell on his girl.
  • A Marine recounts a story of a woman coming out of ocean, greeting him and asking if he's hungry since she was going to have a "weenie roast."
  • After Charlie mentions getting into sheep after the war (meaning on his farm as a business), it sounds like another soldier makes a sexual reference/joke about that.
  • Joe smokes around 5 times, while Ben and Pappas each smoke a few times and various other characters smoke as well (cigarettes, cigars and a pipe).
  • Ben misses his family while on the front-line.
  • The real life facts and events behind this story.
  • WWII.
  • How American Indians have been viewed and treated over the centuries.
  • Joe mows down various enemy soldiers with machine gun fire. Many more people are shot and wounded or killed, while various explosions go off around them during a several minute combat scene set at night. A person's hand is cut off and another is stabbed with a bayonet. Another is stabbed in the shoulder with a bayonet and a soldier is sliced. A soldier's leg is blown off and many more people are shot (and wounded or killed). A hand grenade takes out several Japanese soldiers and more people are shot on both sides, with more injured or killed by grenades. Joe's last man is shot dead before an explosion knocks him to the ground, injuring him (we later see him with scars on his neck and ear).
  • We see a black and white photo of a dead Navajo who was tortured and has blood on his face and clothing.
  • We see some repeated violent scenes from the first entry when Joe has flashbacks to them.
  • We see planes dropping bombs on Saipan, while tanks and regiments make their way across the island amidst the explosions and machine gun fire (both of which knock soldiers down, injuring or killing them). More gunfire and artillery is fired upon various soldiers, injuring or killing them, with some seen partially or completely engulfed in flames. During this, Ben watches Joe go crazy and kill many Japanese soldiers (while many others are killed via bayonets and grenades), while a soldier is caught in a barbed wire fence and then shot and killed along with those who try to rescue him. Ox fires a bazooka that causes a large explosion and kills many people, while someone else blasts a tank with a flamethrower.
  • Battleships fire upon enemy strongholds, resulting in huge explosions that kill many Japanese soldiers.
  • As the battle rages on, more soldiers are shot and/or hit with bayonets, knives and explosions, and we see several Japanese soldiers completely engulfed in flames (and screaming). Ben and an enemy soldier then hold rifles on each other, with Joe then slitting the Japanese soldier's throat (nothing graphic).
  • Joe throws a "backpack" full of explosives into a foxhole and then fights with an enemy soldier (who's then shot dead) to retrieve that backpack (that's been thrown out) and throw it back in. He does and there's a huge explosion that kills many people.
  • Chick holds a gun on Ben when they're alone and then kicks him in the chest before hitting him in the chest or gut with a rifle butt. The two then get into a fight where they exchange various punches and roll around on the ground. When another Marine tries to separate them, Chick knocks that man aside and goes after Ben until Joe gets him in a stranglehold and ends the fight.
  • A convoy is hit by artillery fire (that turns out to be Americans not shooting far enough). A jeep is hit, explodes and flips over upside down onto two people, and more trucks are hit. Various soldiers are then shot by Japanese gunfire and are wounded or die. Marines then fire back and hit one enemy solider who crashes down through a tree and then hangs by a rope. A man's leg is blown off by an explosion (and we see the bloody stump). Many more people are shot and wounded or killed, with another two being hit by artillery that kills them.
  • With Ben posing as a Japanese soldier with Joe acting as his prisoner, the two infiltrate the enemy camp where Joe whispers for Ben to hit him (he does). The real Japanese soldiers then hit and kick Joe on various parts of his body. Joe then grabs a handgun and shoots many of them dead. Ben then stabs a soldier in the back with a bayonet and Joe grabs a machine gun and mows down more soldiers as Ben tries to use the radio.
  • Huge artillery explosions kill more enemy soldiers.
  • Joe slams his commanding officer back against a wall when stating he can't fight anymore.
  • Enemy soldiers suddenly attack the Americans in a small village. A man is suddenly shot in the shoulder and blood squirts out and the same happens when he's then shot in the leg. Mortars are then fired that blow up a hut and send bodies flying. The above man then has his flamethrower tank hit by gunfire. It explodes and he's engulfed in flames, prompting Joe to shoot him dead in a mercy killing. Many more people are shot and wounded or killed while explosions go off around them. During this, Charlie throws a knife that impales an enemy soldier, and then stabs or slices various soldiers, and a Japanese soldier ends up accidentally stabbing one of his own comrades.
  • Ox is stabbed in the stomach but still shoots others.
  • A man is decapitated (we don't see the impact, but do briefly see his severed head). This is a major character.
  • Japanese soldiers manhandle a prisoner and hit him when he tries to escape.
  • Joe throws a grenade that kills several people (including one of his captured men).
  • Ben pushes Joe to the ground, repeatedly punches him and holds a gun to his head.
  • As the men walk along, they suddenly realize they're in the middle of a minefield and then have the enemy open fire on them. One is shot and falls on a mine, causing it to explode. Various mines then explode from more gunfire and soldiers are wounded or killed by that and the exploding mines. A grenade kills some Japanese soldiers and Ben then goes on a rampage and shoots and kills many soldiers. Mortars are fired at the Americans and more people are shot.
  • During that, Ben fights hand to hand with some soldiers (repeatedly pummeling one with a metal pipe or shovel), while Joe shoots others.
  • Japanese forces repeatedly fire a large artillery piece at the Americans (resulting in huge explosions), and we see more people on fire after a tank is struck. More gunfire and hand grenades take out soldiers, while various people are stabbed or sliced with bayonets and/or knives.
  • Ben and Joe are shot and wounded, but Joe continues shooting more soldiers dead.
  • Many more people are shot and wounded or killed.
  • Various planes drop bombs on Japanese artillery forces, causing huge explosions and killing many people.

  • Reviewed June 5, 2002 / Posted June 14, 2002

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