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Rescue Dawn Review Critics


Dave White Profile

… tougher and cooler and smarter … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today

    This is all about escape. And as prison-break movies go, Rescue ranks among the best.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The movie is, indeed, perhaps the most believable that Herzog has made. For a director who gravitates toward the extremes of human behavior, this film involves extreme behavior, yes, but behavior forced by the circumstances.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    Christian Bale plays Dieter Dengler and this is one of the actor's most complex and compelling performances.

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  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Out of a harrowing story set in a foreign thicket, Herzog has found American beauty.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Rescue Dawn reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 14+

Intense POW film explores torture, survival.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this intense POW film isn't for younger viewers. The sometimes-bloody action (which is both heroic and not-so-heroic) is filtered through complicated historical and political contexts that aren't exactly kid friendly. Also, the prison camp abuse scenes are visceral and potentially upsetting, with violence that's both physical (beating, dragging, shooting, machete attacks) and psychological. Starving prisoners look extremely thin and weak; they also eat live maggots and a snake (these scenes are explicit). Characters smoke cigarettes, and there's some language, including "s--t."

  • Families can talk about the impact of the movie's violent torture scenes. Which abuses are worse -- the physical ones or the psychological ones? Why? What is the effect of showing the violence from the victims' point of view? What statement is the movie making about prisoner abuse -- no matter who the prisoners or the captors are? How are the captors in this movie characterized? Is what they're doing different from what characters like Jack Bauer do to suspected terrorists on shows like 24? How?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Prisoners argue, then collaborate to escape; captors are brutal and cruel.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: The film opens with discussion of the Vietnam War's start. Early images include bombs dropping and exploding from pilots' perspective. Dieter's plane goes down, and he falls through trees, resulting in minor (but a bit bloody) injuries. In prison camp, abuse includes beating, kicking, tying up, dragging behind vehicles, hanging upside down (including a disturbing POV shot), tying a hornets' nest to a victim's neck, shooting near the head (ears ringing effect on soundtrack), chaining to planks, and starving (prisoners become alarmingly thin). Escape involves shooting, fighting, and knifing, resulting in bloody corpses. Brutal violence includes machete attack (bloody splatter on witness' face, decapitated body visible), and leads to an unnerving hallucination/ghost.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Brief suggestive talk ("nice ass for a sailor").

  • language false3

    Language: Military men's language includes repeated uses of "s--t," plus occasional uses of "goddamn" and "son of a bitch."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Frequent cigarette smoking by pilots, prisoners, and guards.