Defiance Movie Reviews

Defiance

Defiance

Release Date: Dec 31, 2008

Genre: Drama

Rating: (R)

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  • 4
    Just when you thought you couldn’t take one more World War II-related movie, along comes the worthy Defiance. The rare Holocaust film that emphasizes courage and strength rather than victimization or even morbid fascination, the film is a character study of brothers who led a resistance among Jews who escaped the Nazis. Daniel Craig take on a very different kind of role for him with Tuvia Bielski, and other than a few accent glitches, I thought he did a fine job. Liev Schreiber as his brother Zus was excellent. Jamie Bell, as the third brother, I could take or leave.

    I also went in expected a typically superficial treatment of a Holocaust story. The Nazis generally have to be completely evil, and the Jews completely tragic. This movie was nothing like that at all. The Jews here are fleshed-out, interesting characters. They have triumphs and failures, they make good decisions and terrible decisions. The way this story is told makes you realize (or remember) how one-dimensional most of these movies are. I wouldn’t say it’s a “feelgood” movie—it’s very intense and there are some hard to take scenes, especially in the beginning. But I do think it’s inspirational, and considering how many real-life stories from World War II have been made into movies it’s remarkable it took until now to get this one on the big screen.
  • 2
    This movie has many of the same problems as that bigger World War II movie out right now, Valkyrie. True stories: both very interesting. General storytelling: both fairly well done. Period look: Both impressive. Lead actors: both laughable. Valkyrie was able to overcome Tom Cruise (on second viewing, perhaps I was a tad too harsh on him). But Daniel Craig cannot carry Defiance. Who cast him in this? Bad, bad move. Listening to him stumble through a Russian accent is more than enough to break the suspension of disbelief. He seems uncomfortable, as if he knows he’s not selling “World War II resistance leader in the forest.” The rest of the cast is okay, and the direction is up there with Edward Zwick’s previous efforts like Glory and The Last Samurai (where he got to have Tom Cruise ruin his movie!). But this feels like watching a well-meaning effort flounder and fail.

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