Midway (2019 film)
Midway is a 2019 American war film based on the Attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent Battle of Midway during World War II. Directed by Roland Emmerich, who produced the film with Harald Kloser, and written by Wes Tooke, the film features an ensemble cast, including Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Tadanobu Asano, and Woody Harrelson.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roland Emmerich|
|Written by||Wes Tooke|
|Box office||$124.8 million|
A passion project of Emmerich's, he had trouble getting financial support for the film before finally fundraising most of the budget and officially announcing it in 2017. Much of the cast joined in summer 2018, and filming began in Hawaii that September, also taking place in Montreal. With a production budget of $100 million, it is one of the most expensive independent films of all time.
Midway was theatrically released by Lionsgate in the United States on November 8, 2019. It received mixed reviews from critics and went on to gross over $124 million worldwide.
In 1937, the US Naval attaché in Tokyo and his counterpart discuss the US and Japanese positions in the Pacific Ocean during a state function. Isoroku Yamamoto quietly informs intelligence officer Edwin T. Layton that they will take action if their oil supplies are threatened. On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Japanese use their carrier fleet to strike at Pearl Harbor. The attack leads the US to enter World War II. Shortly thereafter, a command shake-up occurs at Pearl Harbor as Admiral Chester Nimitz assumes command of the badly damaged US Pacific Fleet. Layton speaks with Nimitz over his failure to convince Washington of the impending attack on Pearl Harbor. Nimitz instructs him to stick to his guns in the next battle with Washington so as to avoid a repeat of the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor.
In April 1942, following the Doolittle Raid, the Japanese turn their attention to the Coral Sea. Meanwhile, Joseph Rochefort and his cryptology team begins intercepting messages concerning a location the Japanese identify as "AF". Layton speaks with Nimitz, who informs him that Washington believes "AF" to be a target in the Aleutians. Layton disagrees, believing the intended target to be Midway Atoll. After meeting with Rochefort, Nimitz instructs the team to find a way to definitively prove that "AF” is Midway. After Layton instructs Midway to telegraph in the clear (unencrypted) that they are suffering a water shortage, cryptologists working for Rochefort intercept Japanese communications concerning water shortages on “AF” - thus confirming that "AF" is Midway. In preparation for an ambush of the Japanese fleet, Nimitz orders carriers Hornet and Enterprise recalled from the Coral Sea and demands that the damaged Yorktown be made ready for combat operations within 72 hours.
On June 4, the Japanese launch an air attack against Midway. Initial attempts by US land-based aircraft to strike at the Japanese fleet carriers fail. A crashing B-26 narrowly misses striking a carrier's bridge. The Japanese are stunned, believing the aircraft was attempting a suicide ramming, although Admiral Chūichi Nagumo nervously suggests that the plane was out of control due to battle damage. Nautilus, a US submarine, successfully locates and attacks an enemy carrier but the torpedo misses its target. The destroyer Arashi keeps the submarine pinned down so that the carriers can escape. Meanwhile, US carrier planes are launched in an effort to destroy the Japanese carriers. After reaching the last known location of the Japanese fleet the US forces discover that the carriers have moved. Meanwhile, Admiral Nagumo learns of the presence of the US fleet and orders his men to rearm his planes for the anti-ship attack. Anti-aircraft fire from ships and Japanese planes combined with evasive maneuvers keep the carriers safe. However, the attacks keep the Japanese carriers off balance and unable to prepare and launch their own counterstrike, and keeping Japanese planes out of position for subsequent attacks. Upon spotting the Arashi, the Commander of the Air Group (CAG) of the Enterprise, C. Wade McClusky, correctly infers the Japanese destroyer is rushing back to the main Japanese fleet and leads his planes to follow its course.
As Nagumo's personnel switch out the aircraft ordnance, US carrier-based planes abruptly appear. Enterprise squadron commanders McClusky and Richard Halsey Best successfully lead their planes through the anti-aircraft fire and destroy the Japanese carriers Kaga and Akagi, and squadrons from the Yorktown destroy the Sōryū. Attempting to salvage the battle, Hiryū commanded by Tamon Yamaguchi attempts to rally the remaining Japanese aircraft for an assault against the US carriers. Locating Yorktown, the Japanese bomb and disable the carrier.
Upon returning to the Enterprise, Best receives word that about half of his squadron is either missing or destroyed. Informed that there is a surviving Japanese carrier, Best rallies what pilots he can and sets off to attack the Hiryu. Japanese anti-aircraft fire fails to stop the attack, and Best scores a critical hit that destroys the Hiryu. Raymond Spruance, informed of the destruction of the last Japanese carrier, decides to withdraw for the night rather than press his luck. Informed of the loss of his carriers in battle, Admiral Yamamoto orders his fleet to withdraw from the battle rather than risk his battleships without sufficient air cover, thus bringing the Battle of Midway to a close. In Pearl Harbor, Rochefort intercepts the Japanese order to withdraw and passes it to Layton, who then informs Nimitz and his staff of Yamamoto's decision to withdraw, and by extension the US victory in the Battle of Midway, followed by a coda depicting the fate of the various participants as well as Japanese reprisals after the battle.
|Tadanobu Asano||Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi||Commander, 2nd Carrier Division|
|Etsushi Toyokawa||Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto||Commander-in-chief, Combined Fleet|
|Jun Kunimura||Vice Admiral Chūichi Nagumo||Commander, 1st Air Fleet (Kido Butai)|
|Peter Shinkoda||Captain Minoru Genda||Air Operations Officer, 1st Air Fleet|
|Nobuya Shimamoto||Captain Tomeo Kaku||Commanding Officer, Hiryū|
|Hiro Kanagawa||Commander Isamu Fujita||Commanding Officer, Makigumo|
|Ken Takikawa||Lieutenant Takashi Moroishi||Torpedo Officer (XO), Makigumo|
|Hiromoto Ida||General Hideki Tojo||Prime Minister of Japan|
|Hiroaki Shintani||Emperor Hirohito||Emperor of Japan|
|Ryuta Kato||Japanese Junior Officer (Yamat)||Junior Officer, Hiryū|
|Mandy Moore||Anne Best||Dick Best's wife|
|Rachael Perrell Fosket||Dagne Layton||Edwin Layton's wife|
|Dean Schaller||Jack MacKenzie||Ford's cameraman|
|Christie Brooke||Millicent McClusky||Wade McClusky's wife|
On May 23, 2017, it was reported that Roland Emmerich would be directing the World War II film Midway. Due to its potential lofty budget (with estimates putting its needed cost at $125 million), Emmerich had trouble getting the film greenlit. When no major studio would bankroll the project, he cut down on potential battle sequences and turned to individuals for the funds, resulting in $76 million; he then got an additional $24 million in equity, mostly from Chinese investors, resulting in the film's $100 million budget. It is one of the most costly independent films ever made. Emmerich has previously attempted to mount the film at Sony Pictures in the '90s, with William Goldman becoming interested in the project. However, as with the final rendition, executives balked at the proposed $100 million budget ($152 million by 2019 inflation), and Emmerich moved on to direct The Patriot.
In April 2018, Woody Harrelson and Mandy Moore joined the ensemble cast for the film. In July 2018, Luke Evans was cast in the film to play Lieutenant Commander Wade McClusky, who was awarded the Navy Cross for his role in the Battle of Midway. Robby Baumgartner was hired as cinematographer. August saw the additions of Patrick Wilson, Ed Skrein, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Tadanobu Asano, Dennis Quaid, and others to the cast. Darren Criss, Alexander Ludwig, and Brandon Sklenar were cast in September. Filming began on September 5, 2018, in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was also shot in Montreal, Quebec.
A teaser poster for the film was released on June 4, 2019, which was also the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Midway. A set of 13 still photographs depicting scenes from the film was released on June 26, 2019, and the first trailer for the film was released the following day (June 27). The second and final trailer of the film was released on September 12, 2019, with the film's theatrical poster on September 25. All-in-all, Lionsgate spent around $40 million promoting the film.
As of January 23, 2020[update], Midway has grossed $56.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $68 million on other territories, for a worldwide total of $124.8 million, against a production budget of $100 million.
In the United States and Canada, Midway was released alongside Doctor Sleep, Playing with Fire and Last Christmas, and was projected to gross around $15 million from 3,242 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $6.3 million on its first day (including $925,000 from Thursday night previews). It went on to debut to $17.5 million, beating box office expectations and upsetting projected winner Doctor Sleep by finishing first at the box office. In its second weekend the film made $8.8 million, finishing second behind newcomer Ford v Ferrari.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 42% based on 156 reviews, with an average rating of 5.23/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Midway revisits a well-known story with modern special effects and a more balanced point of view, but its screenplay isn't quite ready for battle." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 47 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 4 out of 5 stars, with 58% saying they would definitely recommend it.
While the film was praised for its accurate historical depiction of the six months leading to the Battle of Midway, there are historical inaccuracies.
The film does not include Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, who was the actual tactical commander in both the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway. Instead, the film shows Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance as the tactical commander during the Battle of Midway. However, Vice Admiral Fletcher did cede tactical control to Rear Admiral Spruance after the USS Yorktown was hit a second time. It also does not include Lt. Cmdr. Maxwell Leslie, commander of Bombing Squadron 3 (VB-3) of USS Yorktown. Leslie and Lieutenant Commander Wade McClusky, from USS Enterprise, arrived above the Japanese task force at the precise moment and together released their bombs on the Japanese carriers. Leslie himself did not have a bomb as it was accidentally released via a faulty electrical arming switch. Nevertheless, he also dived with the rest of the SBDs, strafing carrier decks. During the movie, VB-3's actions were shown through the eyes of the Japanese from the bridge of IJN Akagi, shortly before it too was attacked by dive bombers from the USS Enterprise.
The air battle during the Marshalls–Gilberts raids is portrayed in the film to take place over a mountainous terrain. However, Marshall Islands and Gilbert Islands, where the actual raids took place, are atolls with very low terrain elevation.
While the film shows Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters present during the Marshalls–Gilberts raids, Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service units stationed in the area (Chitose Air Group and Yokohama Air Group) did not possess the new Zero type of fighters at the time but operated only the older Mitsubishi A5M fighters.
The film shows some Douglas TBD Devastator planes carrying both bombs and torpedoes at the same time. While the Devastator could be equipped with bombs or torpedoes, it could not carry both at once. The TBD had only a single hardpoint for carrying ordnance under the fuselage. It did not have mounts for bomb racks under the wings as shown in the film.
The film depicts the deaths of O'Flaherty and Gaido as happening on the day of the battle just after the loss of the aircraft carriers Akagi, Kaga, and Sōryū, whereas in reality, it happened after two weeks. The film shows Gaido as being thrown overboard with an anchor by the Japanese for refusing to answer questions, but O'Flaherty's death is not shown. In reality, they were interrogated and tortured. After two weeks, they were then killed by being tied to water-filled kerosene cans and thrown overboard to drown.
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