Under the Radar

A-Bombs & Sharks - 'USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage'


The crew of the USS Indianapolis undertook a top-secret mission to deliver the atomic bombs that ended the war against Japan and most of them perished when the Japanese sunk the ship as they traveled to their next duty station. They've been waiting 70 years for someone to tell their story and now we have USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, starring Nicholas Cage, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane and out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

Cage plays Captain Charles McVay as he leads the crew on their classified mission. Because they wanted to avoid discovery by the Japanese, the ship sailed without an escort. Because the bombs had yet to be dropped, McVay was forced to make a return journey without an escort. That made the crew an easy target for the Japanese and hundreds of men died during the four days they waited for rescue. Navy protocols prevented a ship on a secret mission from being reported as overdue and the survivors were only saved because pilot Lieutenant Wilber  Gwinn and co-pilot Lieutenant Warren Colwell spotted them on a routine surveillance run.

McVay was later court-martialed for losing the ship with prosecutors citing him for "failure to zig zag" and take proper evasive action. Of the 380 Navy ships lost in combat during World War II, the USS Indianapolis' commander was the only one who faced court-martial. McVay later committed suicide in 1968 and President Clinton signed an order exonerating him in 2000.

The movie starts out as a Band of Brothers kind of tale, giving us back story on members of the crew who will later perish in the sea. When the Japanese sink the ship, it becomes a shark disaster movie. If you remember Quint's USS Indianapolis speech in Jaws, you won't be surprised.

This isn't exactly the elegiac, sober remembrance that the families and survivors deserve and USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage certainly isn't going to remind anyone of Hacksaw Ridge, but everyone brings some ferocious acting to the shark scenes and the fake sharks are excellent. It's not a classic military flick, but it's not boring, either.

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