Midway tells the dramatic story of the first major US naval victory in WWII with wit, accuracy, and with the help of an outstanding cast.

Midway is the name of an island in the Pacific Ocean near the Solomon Islands, and the location of this crucial battle between Japan and the United States. As Lt. Richard Best (Ed Skrein) tells his wife in the movie, if Japan wins the battle, its military will gain possession of the west coast of the United States. 

The movie actually begins before the Battle of Midway, when the United States is trying to maintain peace after Japan’s 1937 invasion of Manchuria. The futility of that effort is quickly revealed when the movie cuts to the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The United States declares war on Japan, and the U.S. Navy becomes the most important fighting force in the war in the Pacific. Midway portrays real historical figures from the Battle of Midway like Lt. Best, naval mechanic Bruno Gaido (Nick Jonas), and naval aviator C. Wade McCluskey (Luke Evans). 

Midway is an excellent movie. It is historically accurate, immersive, funny at the right points, and terribly sad and painful about war. Midway accurately portrays the brutality of warfare, including a particularly difficult scene where an American pilot is crushed by his own ship after he crashes into the ocean. But, yes, it is also funny, including Bruno Gaido’s loud declaration of “CIGARETTE!” when asked by his Japanese captors for the name of his ship, or Admiral Nimitz’s reaction to his promotion after Pearl Harbor: “I don’t envy the new Admiral…it’s me, isn’t it?

One part of Midway that seemed likely to be less accurate was its portrayal of Japanese soldiers. They were mostly reduced to screaming and shooting. The Japanese leaders, like Admiral Yamamoto, are shown to have thoughtful moments and real emotions. Admiral Yamamoto reminds his American counterpart at the 1937 peace talks that he is well aware of Japan’s reliance on American oil and how that will make war very difficult for Japan. 

Midway does not seem appropriate for kids under 12. There is too much graphic violence and cursing, although not as much as in other recent war movies like Saving Private Ryan and Hacksaw Ridge. Although a knowledge of WWII makes the movie more satisfying, the movie explains everything and someone can fully enjoy it without any historical knowledge.