Since directing New Jack City and Posse in the early 1990s, Mario Van Peebles has mostly made a way through directing episodes of well-know television shows (NCIS, Lost, Once Upon a Time, Empire). But with USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, he directs a nearly made-for-TV film starring Nicholas Cage as real-life Captain Charles McVay, who finds his cruiser torpedoed and sunk in the Philippine Sea on July 30, 1945. There are no concentration camps a la Unbroken, but what follows looks a lot like what happens to the men in the water after their plane goes down, as sharks pick them off one by one. Who will survive?
Unfortunately, this film’s look at suffering isn’t nearly as insightful as that Angelina Jolie feature, and the end result – that is, the audience’s appreciation for suffering, faith, and perseverance – isn’t to be found here. Instead, we get Unbroken-meets-Sully, where McVay’s decisions are criticized and torn apart, martyring a man who sought the best way and had to live with results that weren’t his fault.
“War is hell,” Sherman said, and the end result here is that we’re dragged into a vision of hell played out on the seas abroad and the courts of public opinion at home.
The sole special feature is a look at the making of the film.