Posted on Friday, September 2nd, 2016 by Jacob Hall
The story of the USS Indianapolis is one of those inherently dramatic World War II stories that feels ripe for cinema. It has just about everything you’d want out of a motion picture: world-changing drama, incredible acts of courage, the possibility for big action scenes, and sharks. Lots and lots of sharks. On paper, USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage sounds terrific, a must-see dramatization of one of the most harrowing tales to emerge from WWII.
But as the mere presence of the decidedly un-picky Nicolas Cage suggests, this film looks…well, let’s just let the new international trailer speak for itself.
If you know your military history, you know the story. In 1945, the USS Indianapolis was assigned to transport parts for America’s first atomic weapons across to an air base in Tinian. The mission was a success, but the return voyage was not, as a Japanese submarine sunk the ship, stranding 900 survivors in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Over the course of four days, nasty weather, dehydration, and an army of sharks cut that number down significantly, with only 317 men surviving the ordeal.
But you’re a movie fan, you already know this. It’s the subject of Quint’s famous speech from Jaws, a scene so chilling and powerful that any movie that takes on this subject matter has to live in its shadow:
And it definitely looks like USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage won’t emerge from the shadow. Although certainly made with the best intentions, this film looks like the kind of thing that will quietly plop onto VOD sometime in the future without any fanfare whatsoever. Between the CGI that simply looks unfinished the unintentionally hilarious touting of “Golden Globe Nominee Tom Sizemore” as a major selling point, it’s hard to imagine this inspiring much confidence. It doesn’t even have a North American release date yet – it has only been released in the Philippines.
Still, I feel like I should take this moment to say that director Mario Van Peebles (yes, the actor) has helmed fine films in the past. His Baadasssss!, which tells the story of his father’s pioneering work as a “blaxploitation” filmmaker, is rock solid stuff. So maybe he’ll turn around and surprise us all?
Here’s the official synopsis for USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage:
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The harrowing true story of the crew of the USS Indianapolis, who were stranded in the Philippine Sea for five days after delivering the atomic weapons that would eventually end WWII. As they awaited rescue, they endured extreme thirst, hunger, and relentless shark attacks.