Review: CAJUN NAVY Is A Thrilling And Well-Made Documentary

FIRST IMPRESSION

Apart from a few emotional scenes that feel contrived, Cajun Navy works quite well as a portrait of the good that humanity can do.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Directing
Entertainment Value
Technical Merit

Cajun Navy, directed by James Newton, is a new Discovery Channel documentary that shows that there are still good people who hope to make a difference in the world. Set during the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, the film follows a group of volunteers who took time out of their lives to provide relief to victims of the storm when first responders were limited in their abilities.

The story behind the Cajun Navy and how they formed is definitely very compelling, as they have their roots in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and assisting with that recovery. However, instead of providing a general survey of the group’s history, this documentary focuses on one of their specific relief efforts, ultimately providing a more compelling watch.

Much of the movie plays out like a thriller, as we watch the members of the rescue team in action, looking for people who are in need of assistance. Every once, something big will happen, such as a person being found in a dangerous situation, and the film will bring you to the edge of your seat. Unfortunately, you can tell that this movie was made for broadcast TV, as it has locations for commercial breaks built in, and those are placed at the perfect cliffhangers.

The main message of the film is that we can all make a difference in the world, even as an average citizen. The members of the Cajun Navy come from all walks of life, they have families of their own, and yet they give up their time to help others in times of need. We can all be inspired by this tale of humanity to step up and make a difference in any way we can.

cajun navy airboat

Another interesting thing about this movie is that, despite its short runtime, it is able to make many of the subjects feel like fully developed characters. Over the course of the film, we spend a bit of time with a few different members of the group, allowing us to get a sense of their personality and who they are. Because of this, it is much easier to connect with the group and its members on a personal level.

That said, some of the emotional beats in the movie do feel manufactured. For example, there is one supposedly heartfelt moment in which a woman breaks into tears thanking the Cajun Navy for their assistance. You can’t help but feel that this may be insincere, as the way in which it is shot almost feels like it could have been staged for the camera.

On a technical level, the film is mostly very good. Apart from being assembled in a way that is obviously made to accommodate for commercials, the editing is quite strong, being used to build suspense in the story. Additionally, the cinematography does a very good job of making you feel up and close in the rescues, as if you were actually there.

Cajun Navy is certainly a very interesting documentary with an inspiring story. If you are looking for an enjoyable, uplifting movie about people making a difference in the world, absolutely check this one out.

Cajun Navy premieres on Discovery Channel on July 23.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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