Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 35
  2. Negative: 2 out of 35
Watch On
  1. 50
    The Navajo code talkers have waited a long time to have their story told. Too bad it appears here merely as a gimmick in an action picture.
  2. 63
    The result is that the film comes across as preachy and clichéd. And, while the battle sequences are well executed from a technical point-of-view, they often seem repetitive and uninspired.
  3. 50
    The code talkers deserved better than a hollow tribute.
  4. 50
    Gets pinned down in a barrage of schmaltz, cliché, stereotype and racial condescension - not to mention a historically dubious premise.
  5. Despite some feints in a soulful direction, the picture has none of the interior quality of a multifaceted war film like Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line." Woo is all about elegant surfaces, not inner conflicts.
  6. Cage is the only reason to check out an otherwise mediocre movie.
  7. This is a great subject for a movie, but Hollywood has squandered the opportunity, using it as a prop for warmed-over melodrama and the kind of choreographed mayhem that director John Woo has built his career on.
  8. The Navajos must have sent much more crucial messages at much higher levels during the war, but you'd never know it from this movie. Windtalkers is practically all action and no talk.
  9. Windtalkers blows this way and that, but there's no mistaking the filmmaker in the tall grass, true to himself.
  10. Not all it might have been, an oddly old-fashioned film from a director who's usually anything but.
  11. 40
    Woo's mainstreaming his vision here, and though Windtalkers has its moments of precious, awful clarity, it can't hold a candle to the man's earlier blood-soaked balletics.
  12. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    The movie deals superficially with Native American pride and racism in the ranks, but it's hardly about the codetalkers at all: Neither Woo nor the screenwriting team of Joe Batteer and John Rice seem to appreciate the bitter irony in a Native American soldier protecting his land by serving the very government that took most of it from him in the first place.
  13. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Woo could end up becoming the John Ford of schmaltz.
  14. 50
    The script is riddled with so many clichés, you count on the battle scenes to wake you from your stupor.
  15. For all this potential, and the appealing presence of Nicolas Cage and newcomer Adam Beach, Windtalkers remains almost obstinately flat.
  16. 50
    We can only view Windtalkers with the same shaken detachment that characterizes Mr. Cage's Joe Enders, wishing that the codetalkers' real story, a little known and fascinating chunk of American history, had been given its true dramatic import.
  17. 80
    Windtalkers is the best of Woo's American movies, and the one with the sturdiest and most direct links to his earlier pictures.
  18. Despite some of the sentimentality that is also Woo's stock-in-trade, I was moved and absorbed throughout.
  19. Know how to tell if a war movie is mediocre? An outspoken bigot, usually a Southerner, abuses a patient member of an oppressed minority -- the Asian recruit, the African American or, in the case of Windtalkers, a pair of Navajo men from Arizona in his platoon.
  20. The strength of Windtalkers is in its occasional, all-too-short respites from battle, when Enders is struggling with his demons and Yahzee is trying to understand his aloofness.
  21. Windtalkers is to movies what Paris is to weather -- if you don't like the show you're watching, just wait a minute and an entirely different picture will blow into view.
  22. 83
    Cage is superb as a hollowed-out, ferocious man of action chasing his demons recklessly with machine gun firing away.
  23. It's the best new battle film since "Black Hawk Down," a movie it surpasses in sheer feeling and bravura style, if not in nightmarish panic and suspense.
  24. While I don't always have the stomach for Woo's viscera or the heart for his pure, angelic heroes and impure, diabolical villains, I found myself responding to the context and subtext of Windtalkers while closing my eyes through what one might call its text. It's two-thirds of a great film.
  25. Imaginative and frequently thrilling, and the love-hate relationship of its protagonists is quite compelling; Woo is always at his best in portraying the complexities of male bonding under intense pressure and violence.
  26. 80
    Well matched both to the material and each other, Cage and Beach capture Windtalkers' true struggle, the fight to hold on to values like honor, friendship, and tenderness in an environment that demands otherwise. This is as much a Woo trademark as the carefully orchestrated gunplay.
  27. 63
    Woo's antiwar intentions and his talent are at odds. In Windtalkers, war is a beautiful hell.
  28. 40
    At once chintzy and grandiose, awash in battlefield sentimentality and platoon clichés.
  29. 40
    In the studied excess of his Hong Kong action movies, Woo's swooning sentimentality plays like grand opera. With its dogged Hollywood naturalism and the inexorable passage of its characters toward sainthood, Windtalkers is nothing but a sticky-sweet soap.
  30. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Capably made and certainly impresses by carrying its length, but it doesn't expand 60 years of World War II screen literature by very much.
  31. 70
    Even though we can see it coming, this gruff, inarticulate, half-embarrassed love between men, arrived at after many setbacks, is one of the stories that action movies never tire of telling and that many of us, even though we may laugh it off the next day, still find moving. [17 & 24 June 2002, p. 176]
  32. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    A powerful premise turned into a stubbornly flat, derivative war movie.
  33. 50
    The over-the-top sincerity that is so rewarding in "Face/Off" (1998), Woo's best American film, feels too clichéd in this more conventional context.
  34. Reviewed by: Leighton Klein
    The code talkers and their guardians - Beach and Cage, Willie and Slater - do the best they can with the oddly flat-footed script, but their dynamics don't really have a place in Woo's universe.
  35. Reviewed by: David Grove
    This is the kind of film where you think you can predict everything that’s going to happen upon the first shot and you spend the rest of the film praying that you’re wrong. But it’s fun getting there.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 33 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 17
  2. Negative: 5 out of 17
  1. PeterS.
    Sep 25, 2005
    Strange that a film with so much bloody carnage could be so unexciting.