Sunday, January 11, 2009


This is Daniel Craig's second stint as a vengeful Jewish warrior following his portrayal of Steve in Spielberg's Munich.

He's since become a much bigger star and fully justifies this status in Defiance with a superb performance which camouflages some of the made-for-TV production values, especially in the combat scenes.

Liev Schrieber and Jamie Bell also fully contribute to the quality topping.

Director Edward Zwick is also something of a specialist: action movies with a conscience. His portfolio prior to this having included Blood Diamond, Glory and The Last Samurai. This is yet another one of those stories which somehow needed to be told, though I understand that the version we're given is a little free with the facts.

Here the underlying matter of concern has more to do with the history of Hollywood than the history of WWII — the fact that we hardly ever get to see Jews kicking Nazi butt. And as a result it feels less like modern-day issue-tainment than a good old fashioned war yarn.

I'd have to say that as with Blood Diamond this movie just worked for me, in spite of the various flaws which occasionally poke through.

Grade: A--

A further point of note: The Jews here speak the local Slavic lingo (Belarusian/Russian) with the local Slavs but their own dialect (Yiddish) has been rendered as English. Mark Kermode didn't seem to get this when he reviewed the film on Friday...

Zwick might have done a Gibson and put together a cast of little-known Yiddish speakers, but this movie really needed a mainstream star like Craig to function properly.

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