2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars
After ‘Glory’ and ‘The Last Samurai’, Zwick stays firmly in his comfort zone with another tale of plucky outsiders forced into military service. This time it’s the Bielski brothers, leaders of a group of Belorussian Jews who hid in the woods during the Nazi occupation.

Clearly relishing the opportunity to do more than smirk and shoot people, Daniel Craig frowns and shoots people as  older brother Tuvia, who attempts to hold the  community together while sibling Zus (Liev Schreiber) heads off to join the partisans. It’s an extraordinary tale, fully deserving of the hefty Hollywood treatment. The Bielskis sheltered anyone and everyone, even going so far as to liberate a nearby ghetto.

Which only makes Zwick’s  predictable treatment of the material more frustrating. His films have always been trad Hollywood, with more old-school style than actual substance. ‘Defiance’ doesn’t even have style, hemmed in by its forest setting and photographed with an unremittingly bland colour palette. The action sequences are perfunctory and confusing, full of smoke and fury, acting to force the story forward rather than set the pulse racing. The film ties itself in knots trying to be both  historical account and ripping adventure – ‘Schindler’s List’ by way of ‘The Dirty Dozen’. In the end neither aspect satisfies, resulting in a drab if  diverting Sunday afternoon spectacle.

By: Tom Huddleston



Release details

Release date:
Friday January 9 2009
137 mins

Cast and crew

Edward Zwick
Edward Zwick, Clayton Frohman
Jamie Bell
Mark Feuerstein
Daniel Craig
Mia Wasikowska
Allan Corduner
Liev Schreiber
Jodhi May
Iben Hjejle
Alexa Davalos
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