The Great Raid Movie Poster Image

The Great Raid



A by-the-numbers WWII movie; mature teens and up.
  • Review Date: December 14, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 132 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

U.S. heroes are good; Japanese captors are bad.


Prisoner abuse, executions, battlefield violence.


Brief threats against the nurse.


Soldiers curse in battle.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters smoke and drink.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie includes violent, dark images of war and prisoner abuses. Characters curse briefly, look ravaged, suffer abuse at the hands of captors and from malaria, and participate in prolonged, rough-looking battles.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

"We all knew the idealistic notion of rescuing POWs far outweighed its strategic value," intones narrator Captain Robert Prince (James Franco). It's January 1945, and 511 survivors of the Bataan Death March are wasting away in a prison camp in Philippines, and a team of 121 Army Rangers and Alamo Scouts means to recover them. When they hear the camp's commander, Major Nagai (Motoki Kobayashi), will soon be executing all prisoners, under Tokyo's "Kill All" policy, the Rangers' Lieutenant Colonel Henry Mucci (Benjamin Bratt) and Prince make their move. At the same time, the prisoners struggle to maintain hope after three years in the camp. Malarial Major Gibson (Joseph Fiennes) leads by example, physically weaker by the day but determined to survive until rescue.

Is it any good?


Adapted from Breuer’s The Great Raid on Cabanatuan and Sides’ Ghost Soldiers, this film reaffirms familiar oppositions between bravery and iniquity, by way of a by-the-numbers WWII movie plot. And its representations of variously raced characters -- Japanese, the Filipinos, the Caucasians -- are careless. It's a portrayal necessitated and perpetuated by war: the enemy must look less than human. The film includes several solid Filipino soldiers, including the valiant Captain Juan Pajota (Cesar Montano), whose resistance army holds off a Japanese deployment to ensure the rescue mission's success. Still, the raid itself resorts to simplistic good and bad images, with no comprehension of the Japanese beyond what seems a singular desire to commit atrocities.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the possible reasons for this film's historical basis -- a raid in which U.S. military rescued 511 prisoners from a Japanese prison camp -- having remained largely untaught in U.S. classrooms and unheralded in popular culture. This fictionalized version adds a romance (between a soldier and a nurse) and tense relationships among U.S. soldiers, both rescuers and prisoners: what dramatic purposes do these storylines serve? How does the nurse's devotion to the major help connect action in two locations? How does the movie represent the Japanese and Filipino soldiers, in their very different relations to the U.S. troops?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 12, 2005
DVD release date:December 20, 2005
Cast:Benjamin Bratt, Connie Nielsen, James Franco
Director:John Dahl
Run time:132 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong war violence and brief language

This review of The Great Raid was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byjerdawg2 April 9, 2008

This should have got the academy award!

This was a great movie, and a true story. It is cinematically a true work of art. Because it was patriotic and not full of obscenties, the critics panned it. It is excellent. This should have got movie of the year. Go figure!
Adult Written bygounseen April 9, 2008

Great true story of the greatest rescue in American history!

This is a truly great movie starring James Franco and Benjamin Bratt. There is plenty of violence, although not too severe. There is one execution scene, though, where 10 POWs are lined-up and shot in the back of the neck. There is some blood shown with each execution, but overall, it is not as graphic as some war movies. The language is actually not much of a problem. There are about two f-words, although hard to hear because of the battle sounds, etc. There are also some other colorful phrases throughout the film, but not much for a R-rated movie in this day and age. There is no sex whatsoever, although there are a few minor references. Overall a great movie, which most people probably will enjoy. (14+)
Kid, 12 years old June 4, 2013


Really good film about the POW camps in ww2 based on a true story. This film is underated it should have atleast a 4 star rating.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Family Media Agreement