Christian Bale, Steve Zahn
So here we are, mired in a stupid, loathsome war, and what does Werner Herzog do? He creates an absolutely riveting sort-of love letter to America that takes place during that last stupid, loathsome U.S. war, Vietnam. A typically beyond-intense Christian Bale plays Dieter Dengler, also the subject of Herzog's incantatory 1997 documentary, Little Dieter Needs to Fly
. Dengler's a German Ã©migrÃ© who becomes a gung-ho Air Force pilot who gets shot down on his first mission in Laos. Post-crash, Rescue
shifts into agonizing survival-film mode, as Dengler is captured and tortured by starving villagers and Viet Cong regulars. From there, we sink deeper into classic Herzog territory as Dengler and fellow downed flyboy Duane (Steve Zahn) escape the prison camp, only to find nature a far more unrelenting adversary. Dawn
does celebrate archetypically 'Americanâ?� qualities ' resilience, optimism, self-reliance. But as a montage of villages being anonymously obliterated by U.S. planes indicates, it's politically withdrawn, even fatalistic, ultimately rendering nationality an abstraction.