Director Werner Herzog is always interested in telling individual human story confronting with inscrutable nature or established society. The movie is based on true story in the backdrop is Vietnam War of 1965. US flight lieutenant Dangler crashed his plane in hostile nature of thick forest in Vietnam. Soon he got captured by Viet soldiers and ended up with unthinkable torture of Middle Ages and jungle law. In a remote forest shacks he met five other fellow American POWs who were held from more than two years. Dangler is new but he’s smart and hopeful and soon they all start planning to escape. But they have to wait for rain to turn their plan in success. But did they execute it? Well better you see the film to know this.
There are few thrilling moments in the film in the first half; the second half shows the struggle for survival. Nature plays pivotal role in Herzog films. More than enemy it’s indifferent and inscrutable nature and puzzling jungle became looming danger for Dangler and others. Cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger explored some of the unchartered remote locales of Vietnam full of lush landscape or thick lost jungle. Shedding his celebrity image, Christian Bale gave one of the well nuanced performance of his career as Dangler. He lost considerable number of weight for this role to give its authentic touch.
Please keep in mind that it’s not movie about a physical warfare but psychological/survival warfare.