USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 20, 2017 by  

I did enjoy “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” and how the film honors the survivors and the USS Indianapolis’ fallen crew.  But while the film was created with good intentions, it could have been much better.

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TITLE: USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage


DURATION: 131 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R (War-Related Images and Brief Language)

RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2017

Directed by Mario Van Peebles

Written by Cam Cannon, Richard Rionda Del Castro

Produced by Michael Mendelsohn, Richard Rionda Del Castro

Executive Producer: Martin J. Barab, Shanan Becker, Bill Bromiley, Cam Cannon, Charline Cartoux, Timothy Patrick Cavanaugh, Dama Claire, Kristy Eberle, Patricia Eberle, Claiton Fernandes, Vladimir Fernandes, Yan Fisher-Romanovsky, Raymond Hamrick, Sean Leigh Hart, Frederico Lapenda, Mariusz Lukomski, Dylan McGinty, Balan Melarkode, Euzebio Munhoz Jr. Robert Nau, Michael Nilon, Lindsey Roth, Ness Saban, Jamal Sannan, William W. Wilson III

Associate Producer: Natalie Perrotta

Music by Laurent Eyquem

Cinematography by Andrzej Sekula

Edited by Robert A. Ferretti

Casting by Melissa Wulfemeyer-Valenzuela

Production Design by Joe Lemmon

Art Direction by Mark A. Terry

Set Decoration by Jennifer Lemmon

Costume Design by Patrick O’Driscoll


Nicolas Cage as Captain McVay

Tom Sizemore as Mcwhorter

Thomas Jane as Lt. Adrian Marks

Matt Lanter as Bama

James Remar as Admiral Parnell

Brian Presley as Waxman

Yutaka Takeuchi as Hashimoto

Johnny Wactor as Connor

Adam Scott Miller as D’Antonio

Cody Walker as West

Callard Harris as Lt. Standish

Craig Tate as Garrison

Joey Capone as Alvin

Emily Tennant a Clara

Shamar Sanders as Quinn

Max Ryan as Lt. Chuck Gwinn

Patrice Cols as Jean-Pierre

Nicolas Cage, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane star in the harrowing tale of real-life American heroes shipwrecked in shark-infested waters in the waning days of World War II.

From filmmaker/actor Mario Van Peebles (“New Jack City”, “Ali”, “Baadasssss!”) and writers Cam Cannon (“Rage”, “A Haunting at Silver Falls”, “The Prince”) and Richard Rionda Del Castro (“Rage”, “Heist”) comes the American war film, “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage”.

Based on the true story of the USS Indianapolis, a Portland-class heavy cruiser who are coming back after a mission to deliver parts for “Little Boy”, the first atomic bomb used in combat.  The USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by the Imperial Japanese Navy I-58 submarine and the heavy cruiser would sink in 12 minutes. And of the 1,196 crewmen aboard, 300 crewmen went down with the ship.  Leaving 900 crewmen floating with very few lifeboats and no food or water for five days and only 317 crewmen would survive the ordeal.

The film would star Nicolas Cage (“Leaving Las Vegas”, “National Treasure”, “Moonstruck”), Tom Sizemore (“Saving Private Ryan”, “Black Hawk Down”, “Heat”), Thomas Jane (“The Mist”, “Deep Blue Sea”, “Dreamcatcher”), Matt Lanter (“90210”, “Disaster Movie”), James Remar, Brian Presley (“General Hospital”, “Port Charles”, “Borderland”), Yutaka Takeuchi (“East Side Sushi”), Johnny Wactor (“Siberia”, “Goldenbox”), Adam Scott, Cody Walker (“In the Rough”), Callard Harris (“Innocent”, “Letter Never Sent”, “The Real St. Nick”), Craig Tate (“12 Years a Slave”, “Buffalo”) and Emily Tennant (“Juno”, “Mr. Young”, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”).

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate.

The film begins with the introduction of a few of the crewman of the USS Indianapolis and their commander Captain Charles McVay (portrayed by Nicolas Cage).  The crew are on their way back to sea after completing a top secret mission to deliver parts of the atomic bomb.

On July 30, 1945, as the crew are patrolling the Philippine Sea, the ship is torpedoed and sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) submarine I-58 which immediately takes 300 crewman to the bottom of the Philippine Sea. Leaving the rest of the crewman who climbed out of the ship to be stranded at sea for five days without food and water in shark-infested waters.

But after the crewmen are rescued, Captain Charles B. McVay III would have to face charges in court.

Also, the story focuses on two childhood friends, Indianapolis diver Brian Smithwick (portrayed by Matt Lanter) and Waxman (portrayed by Brian Presley) and both men fall for Clara (portrayed by Emily Tennant).  Stuck in sea, will these men ever get back home alive?


“USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). For a 15-year-old film, “xXx” looks great in HD. The film features vibrant outdoor scenes. I didn’t notice any dust or banding issues during my viewing of the film.


“USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  Dialogue and musical score is crystal clear as surround channels are reversed to the chaos inside the cruiser and on the ocean.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.


“USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” comes with the following special feature:

  • The Making of USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage -(33:11) A featurette with interviews with the cast and crew.


“USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” comes with an UltraViolet Digital HD code.

Many people who have watched World War II films have been aware of the various real life tragedies of soldiers who died in battle.  And as Pearl Harbor is often discussed of American tragedies in the ocean, the story of the USS Indianapolis is well-known thanks to the reference in the 1975 film, “Jaws”.

While the story of the USS Indianapolis’ sinking and aftermath have received several adaptations, the most recent adaptation “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” directed by Mario Van Peebles goes to show how the top secret mission that the crew undertook, the sinking of the USS Indianapolis but also the political ramifications of the USS Indianapolis sinking and the huge loss of life and despite the S.O.S. messages from the USS Indianapolis being received by three stations, because of fear of Japanese submarines, no one bothered to go out and save the crew.

And how the survivors were “accidentally” discovered and because the military couldn’t not be seen as being reckless or to be blamed, someone had to be blame for the large loss of life and Captain Charles B. McVay III was the man to be blamed and was eventually court-martialed and convicted.

And because of that, McVay took the full brunt from the families of the deceased.  And while McVay’s sentence was remitted and he was restored to active duty and would eventually retire as a rear admiral several years later, the damage was already done.

The guilt that families put on McVay would lead to McVay killing himself two decades later at the age of 70.

It wasn’t until 2000 that that US Congress passed a resolution to Captain McVay exonerated the loss of Indianapolis but it was not until 2001 that the Secretary of the Navy ordered McVay’s record to be cleared of all wrongdoing.

But needless to say, several hundred Naval ships were lost in combat and McVay was the only captain to be court-martialed for the sinking and he was seriously screwed over.

While the film does what it can to restore McVay’s honor and showing how he was screwed over by politicians and the military, the film wanted to show how deadly the seas were due to the sharks that surrounded the area due to the dead bodies.  The shark attacks is noted as the largest shark attack on humans.  While most of it was well-done, there were some scenes that made the movie seem like a cheap shark infestation movie when the film shows closeups of the sharks.  And the film suffers a little when it comes to details of the period and trying to capture the 1940’s.

But I think where the script tends to fail is when it tries to create a storyline among two friends vying for a girl.  As the film tries to incorporate many characters, I felt the film should have focused more on the camaraderie of the crew and to keep any romantic element non-exisited because there is only so much you can integrate in this war film.  The writers tried to add a lot of things involving many characters but it wasn’t really needed at all and it hampered the overall plot a bit.

Nicolas Cage did a good job playing the role of Captain McVay and there is a pivotal scene when McVay confronts Hashimoto (portrayed by Yutaka Takeuchi), the man responsible for the sinking of the USS Indianapolis but also the man who helped McVay, testifying that there was no way that the USS Indianapolis could have avoided the torpedo attack.And decades later, in reality, Hashimoto would be fighting for McVay’s exoneration in 1999 before his death in 2000.

I also felt that the interviews with survivors included at the end of the film was also a good to see but also to see the photos of the actors and their real life counterparts.

If anything, director Mario Van Peebles and the film crew did a fine job of creating film that honored the crew of the USS Indianapolis.  When kept to the factual moments, when kept to the tragedies and unfortunate situations that happened to Captan McVay, the story works very well.  Stray away from that and that’s when the storyline suffers and “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” is a film that tries to incorporate too much for its own good.

Overall, I did enjoy “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” and how the film honors the survivors and the USS Indianapolis’ fallen crew.  But while the film was created with good intentions, it could have been much better.

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