Midway’: Roland Emmerich signs a very entertaining exercise in old-fashioned war cinema

November 7, 2019

With each new feature film that has been released in recent years, the master of destruction – with the permission of Michael Bay – Roland Emmerich has been beaten with more fury than is due for the excessive and grandiloquent of his proposals, and for the digital philosophy that has been gaining weight in his most recent pieces.

But the German has provided us with authentic icons that have become part of the contemporary cinema collective mind. From cathedrals of action cinema such as ‘Universal Soldier’ to more sober bets such as ‘The Patriot’, passing through the many catastrophic exhibitions of ‘Godzilla’, ‘Independence Day’, ‘2012’ or ‘Tomorrow’s Day’.

Emmerich has shown, quality apart, an enviable hand to shape stories of the most diverse types and forms, rising as one of the references of Hollywood blockbuster. And is that, despite his tendency to unravel and the impurity of his works, it is impossible to deny that Stuttgart is a true craftsman in the art of narrating stories in images, possessing a solvency that returns to demonstrate in ‘Midway’.

The umpteenth approach to the Pearl Harbour conflict and its immediate consequences, turned this time into a visual entertainment typical of the 21st century, but enriched with a delicious old taste.

An old-fashioned war drama

Hypervitaminized with the technology according to our times and marked, for better or worse, by the tics of the superproductions of the current industry, ‘Midway’ recovers the essence of the great choral warlike dramas like ‘Twelve of the scaffold’ or, above all, ‘A distant bridge’.

Infesting its cast with big stars with which to bring some spark to its hackneyed base approach. Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Dennis Quaid, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Eckhart… the string of top-level names is, to say the least, astonishing.

However, the solid work of each and every one of them is decimated by a construction of characters that does not stop exploiting the clichés and clichés seen once and a thousand times in the genre, thrilling without any problem, but hinting at seams that end up squeaking ultimately.

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Where there are no valid chiaroscuro is in an action treatment that brings out the best and purest of Emmerich since it decided to give its soul to the CGI without any filters or repairs.

I won’t deny that some of his visual effects and compositions squeak more than they should, but once it takes off, ‘Midway’ gives us spectacular aerial battles, filmed with nerve and mounted with breathtaking precision and rhythm.

Unfortunately, this intensity is diminished by a narrative that sins twice. On the one hand, it seems somewhat repetitive, with sequences and climaxes happening in a way that is capable of extenuating the most seasoned spectator.

On the other hand, their obsession with historical rigour and schidistance in terms of point of view play a bad trick, alternating between the American and Japanese sides with a frequency that brings an undesirable extra chaos to the development of the plot.

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Accustomed to good Roland’s braking passes, one can’t help but be amazed at how well Midway ultimately works. Beyond its exaggerated digital look and dramatic anarchy.

The classicism that encloses between its bulky two hours and twenty minutes of footage has enough claw to claim it as a remarkable exercise in war cinema that, despite being old-fashioned, is also at the end.