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Film: Windtalkers

Windtalkers is a 2002 military film directed by John Woo about the Navajo Code Talkers in the Pacific front of World War II.

Joe Enders (Nicolas Cage) is given the job of protecting a Navajo code talker named Ben. Because the code must not be broken, Joe's orders are to kill Ben should he fall into enemy hands. The movie mostly follows the Battle of Saipan.

The film got bad reviews and did not perform well at the box office.


Tropes in this film:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The mass-produced katana used to behead Peter with a single stroke.
  • Ax-Crazy: Joe turns into a real demon of war during combat, just looking for more kills to score. Later, after Whitehorse is killed, Yahzee takes the role of ax-crazy soldier.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Peter and Whitehorse during their Last Stand.
  • Berserk Button: As expected, Ben didn't take The Reveal about Joe's orders mildly.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Joe, to indicate that he's really dying.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Reloading? You're kidding, right? This trope is going to absurd levels with Joe's Thompson. Even if he's the only character ever seen reloading, his clips holds a few times more than they should.
  • California Doubling: Hawaii as Saipan.
  • Call Back:
    • When in desperate need of a radio, Yahtzee recalls how Chick said that Indians look almost Japanese when not in uniform to excuse almost killing Yahtzee. The squad promptly starts to collect Japanese uniforms.
    • Later in the film Ben mocks his own words toward Joe. First time, he assured Joe that following orders is the most important thing to do, even more important than saving your friends. But when he learns that Joe is ordered to kill him in case of risking capture, he berates him for mindlessly following orders.
  • The Cavalry: Air support. Usually too late.
  • Conflict Ball: The Windtalkers knew how important they were - so much so that they needed a babysitter to keep them safe - but Ben is shocked that among Joe's orders are ones to kill him should he fall into enemy hands.
  • Conspicuous CG: F6F Hellcat fighters. Maybe because they were CGI.
  • Death Seeker: Joe was the last man standing after his unit got slaughtered, because he insisted that they must obey their orders and hold their ground. It's haunted him ever since, to the point where he's one step from being outright suicidal.
  • Dawson Casting: The marines in this movie are all in their late 20's and 30's unlike most marines in WW2 who would have been aged 18 to 23,possibly justified In-Universe because they needed experienced men for this mission.
  • Determinator: Joe. Give him an order. He will do anything to fulfill it.
  • Fatal Family Photo: The whole unit is watching photos of their beloved ones... right before coming under heavy artillery fire.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Everyone in the unit.
  • Flamethrower Backfire: The film does this to the squad member carrying the flamethrower.
  • Genre Blind: Ben, regarding Joe's orders again.
  • Hidden Depths: Joe. Sure, he is a killing machine with serious problems, but outside the battlefield he's really a nice guy. Even toward nominal enemies, as shown with the sick kid to whom he gave his pain-killers.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier
  • Human Shield: Peter uses one of the Japanese soldiers to block a stab from bayonet.
  • Hyperventilation Bag: Pappas is shown a few times using one.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Ben and Joe toward each other at the end.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Joe. If the Thompson submachine gun was half as accurate as it's shown in his hands, it would have been the ultimate weapon of WWII.
  • Indy Ploy: The whole get-to-the-Japanese-radio plan is made more or less on the move.
  • Man on Fire: The flamethrower-equipped member of The Squad dies this way.
  • Manly Tears: Joe cries during his Not So Stoic moments.
  • Mercy Kill: Joe has orders to do this if his windtalker should fall into enemy hands, to both save the man from torture and protect the code.
    • Also the flamethrower soldier on fire is given this.
  • Mood Whiplash: After upbeat talk about their families and home the main characters are suddenly under artillery fire. Friendly artillery fire .
  • Na´ve Newcomer: Both Ben and Whitehorse. They not only have no idea into what kind of hell they getting themselves, but are also completely unprepared for racial ostracization by fellow soldiers.
  • Never Trust a Title: Joe is the center of attention and the protagonist in the movie, the windtalkers, are... there.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Oh, how nice of you to feed a starving little girl... time to blow up your flamethrower and let you burn alive!
  • Noun Verber
  • One-Man Army: Joe, combining this with Do-Anything Soldier. While being deaf on one ear and living under the heavy burden of Survivor Guilt, he is still capable of taking down dozens of enemies alone. Heck, he got two Silver Stars for his insane fighting skills and determination.
  • Plot Armor: Subverted. Until the attack on the village, everything seems to follow this trope, with heroes going through impossible situations. After that scene, Anyone Can Die.
  • Poor Communication Kills: There was really no reason to withhold the information from the Windtalkers that their babysitters were supposed to kill them should they fall into enemy hands. It wasn't like the windtalkers didn't already know how important they were. Heck, if things were that dangerous, they should have already been trained how best to take themselves out before the enemy gets to them.
  • Reckless Sidekick: During their last fight Ben is so enraged that he basically endangers his whole squad by going berserk.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Yahzee, after Whitehorse is killed.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Joe.
  • Shovel Strike: Ben is using an entrenching shovel to defend himself during the final battle.
  • Survivors Guilt: Joe suffers from this.
  • Take a Third Option: When Joe can either fight the Japanese or kill Ben to keep the code secured, he choose to take him on his back and run for safety.
  • Technical Pacifist: Ben starts as one... where he ends up is another story.
  • Tranquil Fury: Joe. All the time.
  • Trojan Prisoner: When Ben dresses up as a Japanese soldier and takes his "captive" Joe into a Japanese camp in order to gain access to a working radio.
  • Overcrank: After all it's John Woo's film.
  • Unfriendly Fire: Chick was trying to pull this on Ben.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: There were Navajo code talkers, and they really were instrumental in the Pacific Theater,note  but the characters in this movie are all fictional.
    • At least the posters say "inspired by" rather than "based on".
  • War Is Hell: As far as Hollywood allows, this trope is taken to the extreme. Mutilation of bodies, everyone dropping dead like slaughtered animals, extensive use of banzai charges, accidental friendly fire, Mercy Kills for friends...
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to the inhabitants of the village during and after the IJA attack?
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Ben. He's just an idealistic guy who wants to protect his country.


KokodaWorks Set in World War IISouth Pacific
White OleanderFilms of 2000 - 2004 11:14
Why We FightMilitary and Warfare FilmsZero

alternative title(s): Windtalkers
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