In the brutal World War II Battle of Saipan, Sergeant Joe Enders (Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage) guards and ultimately befriends Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach), a young Navajo trained in the one wartime code never broken by the enemy, the Navajo Code. But if Yahzee should fall into Japanese hands, how far will Enders go to save the military's most powerful secret?
Recognizing the long-forgotten contribution of Navajo "code talkers," whose use of an unbreakable Navajo-language radio code was instrumental in defeating the Japanese, the film serves as an admirable tribute to those Native American heroes.
Director John Wood lends his signature style to serious World War II action in Windtalkers. Unfortunately, it falls short of importance with its standard-issue story about a battle-scarred sergeant assigned to protect a code-talker with unspoken orders to kill him if Japanese capture is imminent. This allows for an involving drama of hard-won friendship, but cardboard supporting characters suffer in the shadow of nonstop action that's as repetitious as it is technically impressive. Windtalkers is best appreciated as a more substantial vehicle for Woo's trademark ballet of bullets. --Jeff Shannon