Midway

by Toby Woollaston

mwVerdict: An overblown and corny theme-park ride.

If you liked Pearl Harbour, then you’ll love Midway… but that’s not saying much. Pearl Harbour was a posturing leaky barrel of testosterone that overflowed with commercial bluster and was most likely an insult to those who suffered from the real-life event.  Midway is more of the same, an unintentional sequel of sorts that focusses on events post Pearl Harbour that led up to the battle of Midway.

Dick Best (don’t ask), the obligatory wise-cracking gum-chewing hero (played by Ed Skrein), leads us into battle. He’s the best Dick around. Yep, a real Top Gum (he doesn’t ever stop chewing), a chiselled jawed Wriggly’s advert who spouts machismos like “Let me put a 500-pound bomb right down their goddam smokestack”. Behind him all the way is, of course, his dutiful wife (Mandy Moore), Woody Harrelson’s silver wigged Admiral Nimitz and a supporting slew of military archetypes who head off to save the Pacific and the Free World. 

It’s writer Wes Tooke’s first crack at a feature film. It shows. His screenplay would make a Baz Luhrmann film feel wooden, with a robotic script that brims with needless exposition.  There is so much “tell and also show” going on, that Tooke has seemingly dropped his own 500-pound word bomb down the goddam smokestack of this film. Fool of a Tooke!

To be fair, this heaving special effects-laden extravaganza is everything you’d expect from a director such as Roland Emmerich. He’s the one responsible for patriotically gouging our brains out with Independence Day and White House Down among other “God Bless America” middle-of-the-road block-busters. Midway is all that and more, and you’d be fairly naive if you went in expecting anything else.  In fact, Emmerich’s bombastic eye-candy may indeed be the perfect foil for Tooke’s mechanical script—it’s almost admirable how the duo have achieved peak-brain-dead-commercial-crap. It’s a “himbo” of a film; handsome to look at but not much above deck.  Unfortunately, Midway treats its audience similarly.
 

See my reviews for the NZ Herald here and for Witchdoctor here.