Midnight Eagle

"Very Good"

Midnight Eagle Review


For a ticking-bomb actioner, Japanese import Midnight Eagle is surprisingly profound, going far beyond the conventions of typical thrillers to embrace everything from father-son relationships and East Asian geopolitics to the role of journalists in a dangerous world.

Award-winning photojournalist Yuji Nishizaki (Takao Osawa) has finally seen enough war and has retreated to the Japanese Alps to shoot nature instead. Recently widowed and feeling guilty about his inattention to his dying wife, he's also abandoned his young son Yu (Hiroki Sahara) to the care of his sister-in-law Keiko (Yuko Takeuchi), a muckraking journalist herself.

While camping, Yuji has the bad luck to witness -- and photograph -- the crash of a plane that turns out to be a nuclear-armed American Stealth bomber that had no business being in the air over Japan, especially Western Japan, which is dangerously close to North Korea. The Japanese military snow patrol rushes into the mountains to get the nuke, but the "foreign agents" who sabotaged the plane to bring it down are also in the hunt. (It's funny how no one in the movie ever utters the words "North Korea.")

Sensing the story of his life, Yuji's journalist friend Oaichi (Hiroshi Tamaki) also heads for the hills after convincing the reluctant Yuji to accompany him. Eventually, after dodging dozens of white-suited Japanese troops and "foreign agents," they find the plane, and naturally the classic red digital timer is counting down from 150 minutes. Can they save Japan?

Back in Tokyo, the very worried Prime Minister Watarase (Tatsuya Fuji) is slowly forced to reveal that he's been giving the Americans a bit too much leeway in their Asian operations, leading to this crisis. As bullets fly on the mountain top, Yuji asks, "Can this be happening in Japan?" He then adds, "We shouldn't have wars or armies." The gallant Major Akihiko (A-Saku Yoshida), who is helping them fight off the bad guys, says, "We're not an army. We're the self-defense force."

While the subtleties of philosophical debates about Japanese self-defense and foreign policy are likely to be lost on Western audiences, there's plenty to keep us engaged throughout. The movie shifts quickly among the Tokyo war room, the snowy mountain, and the streets of Tokyo, where reporter Keiko is trying to make contact with foreign agents to find out what's going on and to get the password to deactivate the nuke. At the same time, Yuji is tormented by the meaninglessness of his life, wondering what good taking pictures ever did until the Major points out it was seeing Yuji's war photos that inspired him to work for peace in his military career.

Gunfire, avalanches, explosions, even napalm... Midnight Eagle has it all. There's even time for endings on top of endings, each one more gut-wrenching than the one that came before. It's quite a ride. All the boom boom of a Bruce Willis project but with lots of intriguing Asian angles. As they say in Japan: sugoi! Cool!

Aka Middonaito Îguru.

Midnight away from the oasis.



Midnight Eagle

Facts and Figures

Run time: 132 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 17th April 2008

Distributed by: Strand Releasing

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 31%
Fresh: 4 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 5.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Izuru Narushima

Producer: Shohei Kotaki, Kanjiro Sakura

Starring: Ken Ishiguro as Tadao Miyata, Nao Ohmori as Kensuke Saito, Takao Osawa as Yuji Nishizaki, Osamu Shigematu as Keiko Arisawa, Eisaku Yoshida as Akihiko Saeki, Hiroshi Tamaki as Shinichiro Ochiai, as Primeminister Watarase, as keiko arisawa

Also starring:

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