While shot beautifully in lush jungles, featuring several terrific actors (Bale is great as usual, as are Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies), it ultimately feels rather empty. Partly this is because Dieter never seems to fail at anything until near the end of the film. Looking for food? There it is. Need to avoid the guards? They look the other way. It ruins all sense of tension or risk. The director commented on Dieter's illogical optimism being his greatest asset, but given how seldom he fails, this optimism seems to be mere logic.
Christian Bale is intensely committed to the part, but it almost seems like he's just hitting the beats - cockiness, bravery, despair, relief, etc. - a pale shadow of the originality he had as Jim Graham. This isn't entirely his fault - he never has some real character to sink his teeth into, and he tries his best with what he has. Dieter's character is seen entirely through the eyes of the other characters - it never seems like we are looking from his POV, he has no inner life, so it's hard to identify with him as the protagonist.
For a further Empire of the Sun connection:
And for my review of that movie.