Defiance tells the story of the Bielski Brothers; 2 Jewish brothers whose family was killed in World War 2. They managed to get away and went deep into the forests of German-occupied Poland where they built camps and eventually rescued 1200 Jews. Now after more than 60 years this piece of not-so-well-known history finally gets a Hollywood treatment.
Unfortunately this means we’re treated to motivational speeches (one by Daniel Craig while riding a white stallion!), slow motion action sequences, bombastic music, and typical Hollywood plotting where the cavalry comes in just in time to kill the bad guys (that would be the Germans) and rescue our lonely good guy (and that would be a Jew) who’s luck has just run out after fiercely killing lots of Germans.
But I’m being too harsh, it sounds like I’m describing Pearl Harbor. This movie is far from that abomination but should have been more raw and true to the story.
The story is about 3 Jewish brothers, Tuvia (Daniel Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber) and Asael Bielski (Jamie Bell), in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe who escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and about 1,200 Jewish non-combatants.
Daniel Craig has become an A-list star after his turns as James Bond. He now has movies centered around him. He is a skilled actor but not one who makes you want to see a movie because he is in it. That can be a good thing as you accept an actor more as his roles vary. He does a fine job here even if it is weird to see a Jew portraid by a blonde blue eyed man. Can’t imagine Hitler wanting him dead as he is a posterboy for the 3rd Reich! He and Liev Schreiber are the ones in charge of the refugeecamp in the woods, although Liev has a lot of scenes where he is in the Russian army. This comes to an annoying thing about this film; the language. Half of the cast speak Russian, the other half English. Yet they all understand eachother and sometimes the dialogue switches from language without any good reason. It would have been better if this movie sticked to one language. You can say about Mel Gibson all that you want but the man is accurate when it comes to the spoken laguage of his historical movies.
There is one character which grows above the rest; the forest. Especially in the snow sequences the woods are beautifully captured on film. They could be a part of a travel brochure!
This is a decent movie, good but not great, and should be shown to schoolkids as it teaches us that not all Jews underwent their doomed premises without a fight. This movie shows a side of WW2 we didn’t saw before and that makes it a movie worth seeing, it’s just that it is too Hollywood at some places.