Marcus Luttrell and his team set out on a mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah, in late June 2005. Marcus and his team are left to fight for their lives in one of the most valiant efforts of modern warfare.
In World War II, the fall of Stalingrad will mean the collapse of the whole country. The Germans and Russians are fighting over every block, leaving only ruins behind. The Russian sniper Vassili Zaitsev stalks the Germans, taking them out one by one, thus hurting the morale of the German troops. The political officer Danilov leads him on, publishing his efforts to give his countrymen some hope. But Vassili eventually start to feel that he can not live up to the expectations on him. He and Danilov fall in love with the same girl, Tanya, a female soldier. From Germany comes the master sniper König to put an end to the extraordinary skilled Russian sniper. Written by
The wreckage of a German aircraft outside the department store scene is a Siebel Si204, a light military transport built in small numbers. It is consistent with the period and the markings are authentic for the Russian Front. It was built in France and Czechoslovakia, as well as Germany, and many were operated by both civilian and military air fleets until the 1970s. It is clearly a mock up, however, and the tailplane is wrong: it is a single tailplane and the 204 had a twin tail. See more »
Mass attacks such as the one depicted at the beginning of the film were never utilized in Stalingrad. Open squares such as the one depicted were few and far between, and all the actual fighting was done street-to-street, often with entire battles taking place in a single building. See more »
[whispering to boy aiming rifle]
I am a stone. I do not move. Very slowly, I put snow in my mouth. Then he won't see my breath. I take my time. I let him come closer. I have only one bullet. I aim at his eye. Very gently, my finger presses on the trigger. I do not tremble. I have no fear. I'm a big boy now. Ready Vassili? Now, Vassili, fire!
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There are so many things that went wrong in this movie that treating them all in paragraph form would probably exceed the one thousand word limit imposed by the Database. I do believe, however, that all the problems can be wrapped under the single title "Mood."
What is wrong with the mood in Enemy At the Gates? Everything. Let's start simply: music. Despite a reasonably solid history, James Horner embarrasses himself. For his sake, I can only hope that Arnaud can be blamed for this, and not Horner (I enjoyed his work in Legends of the Fall.) The music is constantly "Mickey Mouseing" the action on the scene; that is, in case the viewer is too dumb to understand what's happening visually, the music clues him in. When we first encounter Ed Harris, the music keys up an evil score -- in case we had thought these were the Good Nazis. When trouble seems to be brewing, the music mimics it. This is not necessarily a cardinal sin. Most movies, to some extent, use music in this fashion. But when it is as invasive as the music of GATES, it deserves a demerit.
Accents. I had several discussions about this before seeing the film, defending GATES on the basis that "Russians don't sound accented to each other when they're speaking, so there's no reason to accent a supposedly all-Russian army. Unfortunately, the director (Arnaud) made some grievous errors with the accents. First of all, within a country as large as the USSR, regional dialects are pervasive. However, the only "regional accents" we hear are US or British accents. Which means that Jude Law -- supposedly an uneducated peasant -- speaks with his usual British flair. Secondly, Arnaud at times seems to forget that the Germans are speaking German and the Soviets Russian. As a result, Ed Harris can easily converse with a Russian boy with no linguistic problems (is the message that a German nobleman learned Russian, or that the boy knew German? I do not know.) All in all, it's another invasive element.
Stalingrad. It certainly looks pretty enough (or, impressively destroyed), though Aranaud spends an inordinate amount of time showing us a symbolic statue of Stalin (it seems that not just American directors are obsessed over Russias old cast-iron statues.) Yet geographically, we start to run into problems. Any character can find any other character within a matter of minutes -- despite the fact that the city is a warzone, rubble-strewn, and gigantic. It's simply strange, and more than slightly silly. My friends and I were laughing constantly by the end when Arnaud's harsh cuts (which would often show dramatic lighting changes within a single scene) would teleport Law from the Volga to the front and back again before breakfast was done.
We see one civilian (excluding a rushed evacuation scene) the entire movie. We never get ANY notion that this is a populous city that is being annihilated. In fact, the closest thing we get is a cliche, "This is my home" (with Horner playing it up for us, of course)...the woman saying that evacuates within two minutes. No one else ever mentions anything.
The love story. Jesus H. Christ. The one provoked fits of laughter -- especially from the girls in our group. One excellent scene has Jude Law and Racquel Weisz engaged in intercourse, in a tunnel, surrounded by 30 sleeping soldiers on all sides. Aside from the fact that Weisz achieves multiple orgasms this way (or so her ludicrous acting would suggest), she seems to really enjoy having Law's filthy, filthy hands rubbed over her face and lips. As I said, laughable. Much like the friendship between Fiennes and Law, the romance between the three seems based on convenience. Fiennes and Law become fast friends because they are using each other for fame (isn't that the truest form of friendship?), and Weisz has two fans because she's attractive and extremely sexually liberated. There is certainly no suggestion -- except in the apparent expectation on the viewers to fill in this element -- that there is anything ROMANTIC going on between Law and Weisz. If there was, it got cut in favor of the scene in which the snipers, having pinned down their adversary, take a break to have sex and sleep. Unfortunately, their young friend pays the price of their licentious habits.
I could go on and on about the way Arnaud insults our intelligence. The Russians smoke hand rolled cigarettes looking like joints -- the evil German smokes gold foil, machine rolled cigarettes. In case we forget that the Germans aren't really worse than the Russians, we are reminded of various attrocities. In case we don't know what the Battle of Stalingrad was, the film explains it with an expository introduction complete with the colored Nazi region of a map expanding into the Soviets. Oh, the Soviets are red, in case you forgot they were Communist.
The movie is a farce; what pleasure is to be had is in spite of the movie. The cast is full of excellent actors, who I suppose help carry some of the bloated weight of the movie. The special effects are neat, if misused. The sniper scenes are...well...sniper scenes, but you get a good hour of them if they're your thing. And you see Weisz's naked rear.
There are so many better movies made about WWII -- both from the European standpoint and the American. If you're looking for a movie about the Evils of Stalin, I recommend Burnt by the Sun. As for WWII flicks in general, there are enough that you can darn well find one yourself.
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