Defiance (Edward Zwick) 2008

Yes, another WWII movie and another “from a true story” story.  As I said before, I take the “true story” with a grain of salt as many times the writers just plum make sh*t up for dramatic convenience.  Anyway this true story is about three Jewish brothers who take thousands of Jews into the Belarussian forest to escape from the Nazis.

I was looking forward to this movie for awhile.  I do like the movies of Zwick (even though he is a hamfisted with his political messages) and of course Daniel Craig.  Sadly this movie is very average.  I do think this story does need to be told, however I think the best way to see it is in documentary form.  I was genuinely curious as to how they evaded capture for so long, how they managed to feed thousands a day, how they established a working community, and their interaction with the Russian army.  Zwick does give a few answers, however it seems he is more committed to action and the storyline about the brothers.  So we get a little shafted when it comes to really learning anything.

From a dramatic standpoint, there really isn’t that much from the plot that stands out.  The only characters that stand out are the brothers and we practically ignore the thousand other Jews that are also on this journey.  And even of the brothers, we only really hear from Craig’s character Tuvia and Liev Schreiber’s character Zus.  Zwick invests a lot of time with this odd siblings rivalry side plot between Tuvia and Zus.  We spend a lot of time with scenes of Zus being jealous with Tuvia’s actions and Zus being portrayed as a hothead but it doesn’t amount to anything.  You spend all that time and you leave that plot thread hanging?  There also isn’t a clear destination with our plot.  It seems like we meander through the plot as the story is simply about survival and not about fighting a clear enemy or going to an exact location.

For those going to see Daniel Craig f*ck some Nazis up will also be disappointed.  As I said before, the goal is survival and not about fighting.  We only get a few action scenes and what we get are quick fights in fog filled forests.

Nothing is bad with Defiance, its just nothing really stands out.  Everything is so blandly good that the tired theme of WWII movie drags the whole production down.  As I said before, I really think this would have worked better as a documentary than a mediocre action/drama.

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One Response to “Defiance (Edward Zwick) 2008”

  1. Destrucity Says:

    Watched this for a movie night with my friends, and I had a similar reaction as you. I thought the brother rivalry was interesting enough–but then again, I don’t have a brother, so maybe I couldn’t see it as limp as you saw it.

    I told my friends afterward that it would make for an interesting double feature with Inglourious Basterds.

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