Coming from director Mario Van Peebles and Saban Films is the story of a fateful episode in history that happened to the “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage.”
It is during World War II and in 1945 Captain Charles McVay (Nicolas Cage) is commanding the U.S.S. Indianapolis. After some time dealing with repairs, Capt. McVay is told that his ship and crew would be taking a most important mission. They would be delivering the atomic bomb to the island of Tinian.
During their return trip through the Philippine Sea, the ship is hit by a Japanese torpedo and sunk sending the men into the sea. Trying to get all the surviving men, Capt. McVay finds CPO McWhorter (Tom Sizemore) and more men attempting to get into rafts or anything else left floating.
Almost immediately the men are attacked by sharks circling the men. The air is filled with the sound of pain and the smell of fear. As each day passes the men keep watch for the sharks but quickly the water and food are not enough to go around. Five days of floating in the vast ocean, the men waited for rescue.
From the air, airplane pilot Lt. Gwinn (Thomas Jane) spots them and calls for help, out of the entire crew only 317 would survive. Their agony would not be over as Capt. McVay is called up for court martial. Charging their Captain with “hazarding his ship by failing to zigzag”, even Commander Mochitsura Hashimoto (Yutaka Takeuchi) defends the actions taken.
Nicholas Cage as Captain McVay is a military man who follows orders, including delivering one of the most powerful weapons in history. Once the torpedo sinks the U.S.S. Indianapolis, Cpt. McVay does what he can to keep the men together and find as many more survivors as possible. It is the court martial were Cage gives McVay even more grace as his men stand by him. It is when the “enemy” arrives that both men come to terms with the sadness of war.
Sizemore as McWhorter is what my grandfather would call a ‘salty dog’ who is dedicated to the Captain and the ship. Takeuchi portrays Commander Hashimoto, a man whose story is actually less told than that of Captain McVay’s. When the two come together one final time, it is an important scene. Thomas Jane as Lt. Gwinn brings down his airplane to save as many of the men as possible. It is good to see him back on the screen again.
Other cast includes Matt Lanter as CPO Smitchwick, Tom Sizemore as CPO McWhorter, Judstin Nesbitt as Lindy, Brian Presley as Waxman, Mandela Van Peebles as Theodore, Callard Harris as Lt. Standish, Weronika Rosati as Louise, Emily Tennant as Clara, and James Remar as Admiral Parnel.
Saban Films focuses on talent-driven films that are filled with unique characters that can be found in theatres as well as VOD releases. Saban Films was established by Haim Saban and led by President Bill Bromily. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.sabanfilms.com.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. What I enjoyed most about the film is that it explained what happened to the ship before the delivery of the bomb and what happened after they men were rescued.
Recently at the San Diego GI Film Festival, it was my honor to meet three survivors of that fateful event. John Wolston, Edgar Harrell, and Al Celaya along with 23 other men are the last survivors of the USS Indianapolis who believe that bringing this story to everyone’s attention is so very important.
John Wolston said, “We took a great ship to sea and lost it, but we survived.” Listening to the story directly from these men gave me a better understanding of what happened historically.
Director Van Peebles takes the extraordinary leap of bringing his vision of the story of the USS Indianapolis and its crew into wider view. I asked many, many people if they knew that this story had more to it than sharks and the ocean and the answer was almost always “no.” “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” will take care of that!
In the end — it is based on the true story of survival!