Defiance (R) - 2008 - Runtime: 137 minutes
Director: Edward Zwick
Starring: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell
There's been a plethora of World War II-themed movies that have come out in the past year or two. Valkyrie, The Reader, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas are just a few. I'm not gonna lie, I do love me some World War II movies. Whether it's Saving Private Ryan or Schindler's List, some of the best movies have been centered around this historical clash of good versus evil.
Defiance may not win any awards, but it's effective in telling a largely forgotten (which is hard to imagine nowadays) story about an ordinary group of Jewish brothers (the Bielskis) just trying to survive the massive genocide that was taking place. While in the process of hiding in the woods, they become unwilling heroes in saving more and more Jewish refugees.
I am a sucker for these kinds of movies, so it's no surprise I liked it. The best thing the movie has going for it is that it really happened (to what extent, I don't know). I enjoyed the characters and I thought Liev Schreiber did an excellent job of portraying such a conflicted character who can't decide whether to help his Jewish brethren or leave them to fend for themselves (the Bielski brothers were mostly outcasts and criminals before the war). I thought Daniel Craig was okay compared to his fellow castmates, who really stole the movie (look out for Jamie Bell, he's going to be an up and coming star). The movie really does a good job of keeping you invested in the characters - you just don't know who's going to survive.
There are a few flaws to the movie, though. The pacing is a bit slow and jarring - the action sequences seem out of place. And it could have been cut down to two hours without any problems - you don't need to hammer the audience with scenes of how awful it was for the refugees. We get it, it was World War II and you were Jewish.
Just don't expect a whole lot of action out of this one or you will be sorely disappointed. But if you're in the mood for a movie "based on a true story," you can't go wrong with Defiance.
Rating: Rent It