Thank god for Werner Herzog. Where everyone chooses to go left, Herzog persistently goes right.

Rescue Dawn could easily have been executed differently. A Vietnam War story with torture and POWs could have been jingoistic, heavy handed and self-righteous.

Instead, like Terence Malick’s The Thin Red Line, Herzog’s film becomes a sort of anti-war poetry. With great performances from Christian Bale and Steve Zahn as two POWs escaping from a prison of war camp, Rescue Dawn spends much of its time in the jungles of Vietnam – two men versus nature.

As the journey gets more and more desperate, the film focuses so little on politics that you forget entirely why anyone would go to war in the first place. Instead, the film becomes one man’s struggle for survival. By focusing on one person, the grandiosity and sweep of war becomes a distant and implausible ideal created by a faraway and disconnected government.

Grade: A

Rescue Dawn is currently available.