DVD review A thrilling departure from the usual Vietnam fare, offering a more circumspect take on the harsh realities of war.
Rescue Dawn recounts the true story of the US Navy pilot Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), shot down while undertaking a top-secret mission over Laos during the Vietnam War. Captured by the Pathet Lao militia, he is brutally tortured and placed in a fetid jungle prison. He formulates an escape plan for himself and his fellow prisoners of war, principally Duane Martin (Steve Zahn) and Gene DeBruin (Jeremy Davies), but the jungle proves to be an enemy just as terrifying as the Pathet Lao. Day and night, Martin and Dengler drag their emaciated frames through the unforgiving landscape, cowering from their hunters, ravaged by hunger and haunted by visions. Eventually Dengler is extricated by US forces and returned to his comrades a hero. Rescue Dawn is a thrilling departure from the usual Vietnam fare, offering a more circumspect take on the harsh realities of war. Zahn gives a compelling performance as one tormented and broken by his privations. Controversial upon its release - friends and family of DeBruin maintain that Dengler's character and role are overplayed just as those of the other prisoners are diminished - Rescue Dawn is nevertheless an engaging tale pleasingly devoid of jingoistic sentiment.