If you are familiar with the 1957 classic “The Bridge on the River Kwai”, it portrays the story of English prisoners of war forced to build the Japanese railroad. This film is another look at this tragic story that actually shows the grueling treatment of these English soldiers by the Japanese during World War Two. Based on a true story that depicts a man that suffers years later from the treatment he was given while in these prison camps.
Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) does his usual routine and boards the train to clear his mind of his troubles. But that day he decides to ride another train and his life changes forever. He meets a beautiful woman and falls in love. This amazing woman, Patti (Nicole Kidman), is nurse of twenty years and is taking a site seeing trip around England. When he reaches his stop, Eric realizes that she is the one and decides to meet her in Edinburgh. When she gets off the train their relationship begins and leads to their eventual marriage.
With all the distractions of Eric’s love for Patti, he seemed to have forgotten his past troubles and emotional issues. But, eventually they returned and they begin to affect him strongly and concern Patti for his health. She tried to get Eric to reveal his past troubles but he would not, so she spoke to his closest friend Finley (Stellan Skarsgård) to try and figure out how she could help Eric.
Eric and Finley are close friends and were British soldiers during World War Two in Singapore. When the English surrendered to the Japanese, their platoon was captured and sent to a prison camp in Thailand. During their years at the camp they saw unbelievable tortures, while building a railroad that would allow the Japanese army across the countries of Southeast Asia. During their time as prisoners of war young Eric (Jeremy Irvine) and young Finley (Sam Reid), meet their Japanese interpreter and their tormentor, Young Nagase (Tanroh Ishida) and things get bad for them.
Back in the present and with Eric’s visions getting stronger and now endangering his life, Finley decides to tell Patti that Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada) is still alive. He also tells her that he runs the railroad memorial museum located where the abandon prison camp was located in Southeast Asia. When she tells Eric, he then realizes that he must confront Nagase and find the answers he has been searching for.
Director Jonathan Teplitzky does an excellent job retelling Eric Lomax’s tragic story. He brings this dark tale to life and conveys a story that helps the viewer understand what these men had to endure. He includes many details about the experience and shows some of the torture devices used on these brave soldiers.
This heart-rending story is a fantastic film that shows how hard it was for soldiers during the Second Great World War. It also deals with the effects that war can bring on people and what mental anguish can be bestowed upon them.
Final Grade: I give this a B for its excellent depiction of this historic story and its extreme look into the effects of being a war prisoner.
Release Date: May 2nd, 2014
Director: Jonathan Teplitzky
Runtime: 116 minutes (1 hour and 56 minutes)
MPAA Rating: Rated R for disturbing prisoner of war violence.