The Great Raid is more of a boring history lecture than a war movie. Given its exciting theme - the rescue of 500 prisoners of war (POWs) from a Japanese camp in the Philippines by a small band of elite US soldiers in January 1945 - the film has little action or drama and is hugely disappointing. If director John Dahl thinks that dramatising real historical events and characters will rob the story of its authenticity, he is wrong. Mainly due to Dahl's serious, straight-forward approach, the audience fails to connect emotionally with the war heroes and the result is one of the dreariest movies of the year. The film begins with a lengthy introduction on the second world war and the Bataan Death March, in which thousands of captured Allied troops died during their gruelling journey through the jungle to the POW camps in the Philippines. Once there, the survivors would eventually be burnt alive. A team of well-trained rangers, led by Captain Prince (James Franco) and Lieutenant-Colonel Mucci (Benjamin Bratt), are sent to save the remaining POWs. The story has all the makings of an epic war movie like Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. But, unfortunately, Dahl turns it into a series of dull images strung together with poor dialogue. His attempts to go deeper into the serious issues of love and sacrifice are clumsy at best. It is not until the final 20 minutes that we begin to see some action, which is hardly exciting but is still a treat compared with the earlier 110 minutes of drama. At the end of the movie there is footage of the real POWs celebrating after their rescue. The fact that this scene has more emotion and hope than the whole film demonstrates its complete failure. The movie opens today.