Michael Bay has a flair for the dramatic. He’s a huge fan of slow-motion tracking shots for absolutely no reason and massive explosions. He can turn a story that probably could (and should) be told in under an hour and a half and stretch it into a three-hour epic.
Having said all of that, the man is a living legend. A master of his craft. He has a formula for movies, and that formula works. Armageddon, The Rock, Bad Boys II, hell, Transformers was even fun.
Action packed movies with star studded casts and dialogue that makes me want to run through a brick wall. These are all attributes that every Michael Bay movie has. But the one that gets overlooked a lot is Pearl Harbor.
I mention Pearl Harbor because it was recently put on HBO and I watched it last night. It’s a story that goes far beyond the Japanese attack, delving into a love triangle the likes of which this world will never see again. Rafe and Danny are our two main characters. Hot shot flyboys played by Ben Affleck (Rafe) and Josh Hartnett (Danny). They’re best friends, and as the movie begins we see a budding romance between Rafe and a nurse by the name of Evelyn. Evelyn, much like Kate Beckinsale (the actress who plays her), is a classic beauty. A woman so stunning that I won’t be able to do her justice typing about her.
But what happens when America still isn’t in World War II and the Brits need pilots to patrol the skies against Nazis hellbent on taking over Europe? What happens when Rafe gets shot down in Britain and announced back in the states as KIA? This is where the argument begins.
Who’s right and who’s wrong in this situation? A friend of mine claims that Evelyn choosing Danny over Rafe is a travesty. A sham. A betrayal of the highest order. I maintain that Evelyn simply chose to move on with her life. You find out the love of your life has died fighting to defeat Nazis you can either call it a life and never find another lover or you can get back on the horse and try again. Evelyn and Danny are simply victims of circumstance.
They thought Rafe was dead, for God’s sake. What could be more definitive than a couple of officers rolling up to your house in one of those old Packards carrying a folded, crisp American flag. The shot of Kate Beckinsale collapsing at the door has me choking up a little simply thinking about it right now. It’s fucking tragic.
And unfortunately, the love triangle story takes away from the fact that this is a movie about one of the deadliest attacks in American history. I don’t want to downplay that in any way, but my God, it’s one hell of love triangle.
After being left for dead, Rafe returns to Hawaii expecting to find Evelyn waiting for him.
This, of course, is not the case. Evelyn is with Danny now and they basically tell Rafe that unfortunately for him they’re in love. They’ve moved on without him. If you think this is the end of the story you’d be mistaken. Michael Bay is an artist. A manipulator. A man who would never just end the story there. Danny eventually dies, leaving a pregnant Evelyn (unbeknownst to Rafe AND Danny) to fall right back into the arms of Rafe.
I just don’t really think there’s a right answer here. I’m Team Danny. My only argument is admittedly a little lame. Yes, they thought he was dead but I can totally understand siding with Rafe. I just can’t do it. I think it’s the butt chin on Affleck that ruins it for me.
This is quite possibly the most overlooked on-screen romantic affair of all time. There isn’t a right or wrong answer in whose side you’re on, but just know if you choose Rafe over Danny I will argue with you until I’m blue in the face..
Image via HBO Now