Filmmaker John Woo (Hardboiled
) is famed for his bloody action sequences, melodramatic convulsions and characters whose inner turmoil is as crippling and corruptive as the violence that engulfs them. He usually embraces both tender and tumultuous passages with the same uninhibited passion. This war picture set primarily during the 1944 U.S. invasion of Saipan carries Woo’s stamp of squib overkill but not his operatic intensity. Navajo tribesmen (particularly those played by Adam Beach and Roger Willie) are used as secret-code radiomen and two Marine sergeants (Nicolas Cage and Christian Slater) are assigned to “protect the code at all costs.” The big question looms: will the officers sacrifice the life of two privates for the greater welfare of all? The film reaches its answer with unconvincing aplomb.