USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage is set during World War II and is based on the incredible true story of the first attempt to deliver an atomic bomb to Hiroshima after the events of Pearl Harbor and the group of men who embark on the secret mission. The ship was shot down by a Japanese submarine leaving 300 crewmen stranded in shark infested waters.
For years Hollywood has tried to get this made into a feature film, even in the late 90’s Steven Spielberg opt to direct a film about it, but it fell through and Hollywood could never get it off the ground, until now. The film is helmed by Mario Van Peebles and stars Nicolas Cage, Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane, James Remar, Matt Lanter and Brian Presley as the crew of the USS Indianapolis. The film was made on a budget of around $40,000 which in the right hands could prove to be a great dramatic film and a sensible story.
The problem is Van Peebles tends to mimic other war films but instead of going a Spielberg route he tends to go more towards a Michael Bay route, but done badly. The CGI effects are sadly and sorely lacking in texture and any sense of realism. The film has a lot of cheesy voice overs that adds no benefit to the story. There are odd point of view or actors looking into the camera when giving dialog which feels very jarring and out of place. Instead of giving these characters depth and development and the impact of going on a mission like this we are instead given characters who tend to become more laughable then being taken seriously. Not to mention a very silly knife fight near the start of the movie that just comes out of nowhere and a rather ridiculous romance story that’s very thin and does not work.
As they embark on their mission Van Peebles tries to evoke emotion and character arcs but it falls flat. There is no sense of tension or emotion of these heroic men going on what is essentially a suicide mission. The shark effects are laughable and looks like something out of a Deep Blue Sea knock off which completely takes you out of what’s supposed to be a horrifying story. The portrayal of what happens during the five days stranded at sea in shark infested waters is lacking in any realism or horror and you find yourself not really caring for about these men.
What’s really sad about this film is it’s supposed to be based on the actual historical account and the brave men who went through this devastating ordeal, but it fails to act on actual fact and is instead loaded with inaccuracies. The film could have been a strong, emotional and horrific journey but it fell into the wrong hands and it’s very disappointing. This film is a pass and instead watch the documentary Forever Strong: a Tribute to the USS Indianapolis.