Picks and Pans Review: The Great Raid

UPDATED 08/22/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/22/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT

Benjamin Bratt, James Franco, Joseph Fiennes, Connie Nielsen, Marton Csokas

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During the dog days of Hollywood's crummy late summer releases, if a movie is halfway good, take it and cheer. That would be the case with this mostly true story of a daring raid staged by the U.S. Army in 1945 to rescue 500 American soldiers held in a WWII prison camp in the Japanese-occupied Philippines. The parts of the film that are real—how a young Capt. Robert Prince (Franco) planned and executed the attack with the help of commanding officer Lt. Col. Henry A. Mucci (Bratt), fellow soldiers and Filipino resistance fighters—are involving and crisply executed. More problematic are the sections of the movie devoted to the suffering of a prisoner, a noble, emaciated major (Fiennes), and his ladylove (Nielsen), a Lithuanian nurse in Manila desperately trying to get aid to him. Both characters are based on composites and throw Raid out of whack, adding a layer of sentimentalized schmaltz to an otherwise lean, mean and fascinating story. (R)

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