'USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage' – Movie Review

Category: Movies

With Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima, and other events of World War II, the story of the USS Indianapolis is often forgotten. USS Indianapolis tells the story of what happened to that fateful ship that played an important part in the war.

Nicolas Cage stars as Captain McVay, the skipper of the USS Indianapolis. The Japanese torpedo hit the big cruiser however under McVay’s leadership the damage was minimal and after repairs, he took it back out on the open seas for a very important mission. Usually the Indianapolis had an escort to guard against Japanese submarine attacks, but this time was different. They were on a top-secret mission and no one else was privy to that so the ship was on its own from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor to Tinian, where it delivered the atomic bomb “Little Boy” that was dropped on Hiroshima.

After successfully delivering their packages the ship left Tinian, again without an escort. After all, they were still in a top-secret mission so in effect, they were not even there. No one was to know about their location or their mission. Alone on the high seas they were again attacked by a Japanese submarine. This time the torpedoes were fatal for the ship.
With the Indianapolis floundering, McVay gave the orders to abandon ship. The men were soon in the oily water surrounded by sharks. With a few lifeboats to keep them relatively safe, their numbers quickly shrank as the sharks fed on the bodies. With no fresh water and very little food, this was not the ideal situation for anyone, let alone a crew who were part of a top-secret mission. Who will find them? Will anyone look for them?

The courage of these men was astounding. According to writer/producer Richard Rionda Del Castro, “I produced this film to pay homage to the final crew of the USS Indianapolis, to acknowledge and honor them, along with their families. To make sure new generations, worldwide, would learn of their harrowing and heroic saga, forever.”

Richard P. Stephens, one of the survivors of the ship was on set during the production. About the captain, he said, “He was a good man, and honorable. He did right by all of us.” He asked the filmmakers, “Just tell the real story. Just tell the truth.” As viewers see, there is a lot going on in this film, however the focus on the captain is an important element. He had a difficult job during a very turbulent time.
The USS Indianapolis played a major role in the war. When it arrived at Tinian on July 26, 1945 it was carrying about half of the world’s supply at the time of Uranium-235. After being torpedoed, about 900 of the 1,197 men on board made it off the ship into the ocean. Twelve minutes later the ship sank and those left in the water were freezing, hungry, thirsty, and, quite simply, shark bait. 316 were ultimately rescued.

This was a dark chapter in Navy history and there had to be a scapegoat. McVay was that scapegoat, although he was eventually exonerated of any wrongdoing.

The film takes some liberties as all movies do, however this is an interesting look at this story that often takes a back seat in the events of WWII.

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage opens November 11, 2016.

For more about the war and events of the Indianapolis, watch the DVD Hiroshima or read the book Killing the Rising Sun.

About the Author

Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment industry for over 20 years. She also writes about products and travel. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.

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