Midnight Eagle

2007, Movie, NR, 132 mins

Review

MIDNIGHT EAGLE | MIDDONAITO IGURU
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American stealth bomber carrying a nuclear bomb sets off a race to avert WWIII when it crashes in the Northern Japanese Alps in Izuru Narushima's American-style big-budget action thriller.

  Traumatized by years of covering the misery of innocent civilians sacrificed to the maw of war, internationally renowned war photographer Yuji Nishizaki (Takao Osawa) returned to Japan and retreated into nature photography, disappearing on solitary mountain trips while his idealistic wife, who believed her husband's photographs could open the world's eyes to war's horrors, concealed her terminal illness in hopes that he would eventually return to his vocation. After her death, the alienated Nishizaki allowed his sister-in-law, journalist Keiko Arisawa (Yuko Takeuchi) — who can't forgive him for neglecting her beloved sibling — to assume custody of his small son, Yu (Hiroki Sahara). Nishizaki is forced out of his funk when, while camping in the Northern Alps, he photographs a plane, hotly pursued by a brace of fighter jets, crashing into a nearby peak. When the official story emerges — the crash was nothing more than a routine training mission gone tragically wrong — Nishizara recognizes a massive cover-up in progress. Goaded by disgraced journalist Shinichiro Ochiai (Hiroshi Tamaki), who had been demoted to a regional bureau after he wrote a controversial story about nuclear-armed planes flying out of the American Air Force base at Yokota, Nishizaki is reluctantly drawn into investigating what might be the story of the century. But the two journalists are not the only ones hiking up the mountain in the midst of a fierce blizzard: Prime Minister Watarase (Tatsuya Fuji) has dispatched two separate military units to find and secure the downed plane before North Korean agents can get to it. Meanwhile, Keiko and her colleague Aiko track down one of the two saboteurs who infiltrated the Yokota base two days earlier, and wind up sheltering the seriously wounded man and his pregnant girlfriend.

  Culturally specific details and attitudes notwithstanding — imagine the president of the United States telling DIE HARD's John McClain — "I sincerely regret that a civilian such as yourself has been caught up in this… on behalf of the government, I sincerely apologize" — this is pure big-budget formula filmmaking, from the morally compromised hero who regains his self-respect to the spunky reporters, grim military strategists, winsome child, glib political posturing and tense countdown to apparently inevitable disaster. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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