I'm always impressed with Hollywood's ability to tell virtually any story through the eyes of a marketable white guy. Though you would think "Windtalkers" is supposed to be about the Native American code talkers who developed an unbreakable code during World War II, it's really the story of a white guy named Joe Enders (Nicolas Cage) and his moral dilemma. Joe's ethical brain-teaser: "Should I befriend this Navajo guy, even though I might have to kill him in the unlikely event that he's caught by the Japanese on my watch?"
Fortunately for both Joe and the audience, the code talker he's assigned to protect is named Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach), whose name is suspiciously close to the beloved Milton Bradley dice game: Yahtzee. As we all know, everybody loves Yahtzee so everybody will undoubtedly love Ben because now they'll associate happy childhood thoughts with the Native American code talkers. I also predict that sales of Yahtzee will skyrocket and that Milton Bradley's product placement payments will have not been made in vain. I also suspect that the link between Native Americans and dice games was not unintentional. This makes the name of some of the other code talkers in the film: Johnny Craps, Freddy Blackjack, and Billy Straightflush, even more suspicious.
Ben is one of only two code talkers in Joe's unit. The other is protected by Ox Anderson (Christian Slater) and his name is Charlie Whitehorse (Roger Willie). The central conflict of whether Joe would kill Ben to save the code is of course confronted in due time. Care to place a bet on the outcome? Does Joe realize it's better not to shoot your friends, even if ordered to do so? Or does Joe gleefully whip out his gun as the Japanese advance, blast away at Ben at point blank range, and scream, "Die you noble, original resident of this great land! Die! Die! Die!" (Hint: Everybody loves Yahtzee.)
Director John ("Mission: Impossible 2") Woo, not wanting anybody to miss the whole issue of racism, has one single character who embodies all the things that are wrong with being a racist. His name is Chick (Noah Emmerich). He gets to say all the bad things about Native Americans while the other characters tell him to cut it out because it's not nice. Naturally, Charlie Whitehorse saves Chick's life and suddenly Chick is spouting unctuous equal rights platitudes like John Ashcroft at a Martin Luther King celebration.
We cheer at the end of "Windtalkers" not because we know the good guys win World War II or because Native Americans contributed to the victory and finally somebody knows about it, but because the film's ceaseless moral cheerleading is finally over.
To spread the word about this Windtalkers review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.