Parents' Guide to

Windtalkers

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

War film relies too much on relentless violence.

Movie R 2002 134 minutes
Windtalkers Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 16+

Overwrought and underdone

What a shame...this film is unfortunate in who it centers and how it tells a story that could have gone so many different directions instead of this overdetermined war saga pseudo epic that feels overwrought and still underdone. The code talkers should be the center of this film and that they are not is shameful. The film undercuts its own purpose for existence. The only reason I gave it two stars is because it is a breath of fresh air to hear Navajo spoken and shared on the big screen, but ufff. Did they really de-center these heroes from the beginning. Would love to see someone get another crack at this with a different script and different intention.
age 13+

a very silly movie

Story is well intentioned with themes of prejudice, acceptance and breaking cultural boundaries. Altho its really basic in its construction. Basic in character archetypes narrative beats, and the whole frame of code talkers is little more than a divice to move between over the top action scenes. The type of action scenes where hand grenades erupt into fireworks and Nic Cage makes Cagey faces while running in the open alone and nailing every enemy in sight with deadeye accuracy without aiming while using a tommy gun. Its really entertaining tho. But far from John Woos most powerful dramatic uses of action. Hige body count but not too graphic, minor squibs, and spurts of blood shown on stains on bodies/ clothes in aftermaths. Not much gore. Language expected in war.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (11 ):

Unfortunately, John Woo's film focuses too much on the complicated, half-crazed Sergeant Enders rather than the Navajos recruited as Marines to use their language as military code. The movie does a disservice to the men it is intended to honor by perpetuating their marginalization and making the much less interesting Nicolas Cage character the main focus of the story. The events are often predictable, and the dialogue is not very memorable with lines from the Navajos like "I've never seen so many white men!"

Windtalkers follows suit of most post-Saving Private Ryan war films and tries to make its point by dousing us with relentless violence. On the plus side, Cage, Slater, and a solid supporting cast of character actors are all dependably good, and it's interesting to see John Woo's distinctive action style put into a war film. The culture clashes are never boring, and scenes where a peace pipe ritual is carried out on a cigarette and Henderson duets on a harmonica with Whitehorse's wooden flute are handled with sensitivity.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: June 14, 2002
  • On DVD or streaming: May 20, 2003
  • Cast: Christian Slater , Mark Ruffalo , Nicolas Cage
  • Director: John Woo
  • Inclusion Information: Asian directors
  • Studio: MGM/UA
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 134 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: very graphic battle violence, strong language
  • Last updated: February 26, 2024

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