Midway has a huge ensemble cast. Nick Jonas is only the beginning. Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Dennis Quaid, Darren Criss, Ed Skrein, Mandy Moore and many more star in Midway. But is there room for them all? How much of Nick Jonas will you actually get to see in Midway?
Nick Jonas gets a heroic moment early on in ‘Midway’
Midway tells the story of America’s World War II campaign in the Pacific after the events of Pearl Harbor. After the devastating Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, the U.S. Navy mounts forces to retaliate.
Bruno Gaido (Nick Jonas) makes a good impression on Vice Admiral William “Bull” Halsey (Dennis Quaid) when he hops in a plane and shoots down a kamikaze before they can crash into the battleship.
Nick Jonas gets some words of wisdom in ‘Midway’
Once promoted to the fleet, Bruno’s carefree attitude makes a mark on the other sailors and pilots. Many are young kids who are afraid to die in battle so they wonder why Bruno doesn’t seem phased by war.
He tells a story that puts life and death into perspective, although the familiar tale of a relative who worked a dangerous job only to be killed in a mundane way feels like it’s lifted from somewhere else. I can’t remember where though. Maybe it’s just an urban legend.
Nick Jonas confronts a Japanese captain
Bruno does end up shot down and ultimately finds himself on a Japanese battleship. He’s still a strong character in the face of the enemy. He tells a Japanese captain to “go f*ck yourself” which I’m sure is a sentiment shared by many WWII allies.
Who else will you see in ‘Midway’?
The above might not be enough of a Nick Jonas fix to make you buy a ticket to Midway and I’d say if you’re only interested in Jonas, then you can definitely wait for video. The cast is so sprawling that few characters get significant screen time. It is perhaps an accurate testament to the collaborative effort of a world war, but it makes a movie feel disjointed.
Lt. Commander Layton (Patrick Wilson) is one of the largest roles, since he predicted the Japanese attack and leads the strategy to combat it. Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) recurs frequently too since he took over the operation. Even Halsey only appears sporadically. Best (Ed Skrein) is in a lot of the air battles, which means they cut to him in a cockpit a lot.
Is it historically accurate or battle porn?
Director Roland Emmerich has all the technology at his disposal to recreate the battles of World War II in intimate detail. Michael Bay had almost as much technology to recreate Pearl Harbor and Midway doesn’t improve on Bay’s maligned film very much. Emmerich finds ways to show individual sailors’ moments during the attacks. He can show what happens when a plane falls off the deck or a torpedo gets loose, and again Nick Jonas gets some hero moments.
All of the war action becomes numbing, but probably not nearly as numbing as it was to the real World War II heroes who fought it for days at a time over the course of several years. Midway shows what sailors and pilots went through, but you don’t really feel it because it all looks like visual effects.
Is ‘Midway’ a good history lesson?
In between battle scenes, Midway’s script does address the strategy that led to those action-packed encounters. It feels a bit obligatory, and if I had to take a history test the morning after I saw Midway I’d be hard pressed to pass it.
Attempts to humanize the officers through their family feel contrived. Layton neglects his wife to research, feeling like any time he doesn’t spend preparing for battle could be American lives lost. For contrast, Best’s wife (Mandy Moore) is always concerned and available to him or other war widows. Perhaps research on the Best and Layton marriages back that up but both feel like war movie cliches.
There’s a whole generation that doesn’t remember what a fiasco Pearl Harbor made of a historic tragedy. Nick Jonas fans probably fall into that generation. Midway isn’t quite as shameless. It seems more interested in depicting the war accurately, but technology and research alone don’t equate to a historic monument.
Midway doesn’t exactly sully the memory of the heroes of Midway, if only because it didn’t have such pretentious ambitions to be an epic wartime romance. Both films use kids playing baseball to symbolize America’s innocence though. Make of that what you will.