A law student becomes a lieutenant during World War II, is captured and asked to defend a black prisoner of war falsely accused of murder.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Lt. Lamar T. Archer (as Vicellous Shannon)
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Pfc. Dennis A. Gerber
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Capt. R.G. Sisk
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Cpl. Joe S. Cromin
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Sgt. Carl S. Webb
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Pvt. Bert D. 'Moose' Codman
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Maj. Joe Clary
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Pfc. W. Roy Potts
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Storyline

Fourth-generation Army Col. William McNamara is imprisoned in a brutal German POW camp. Still, as the senior-ranking American officer, he commands his fellow inmates, keeping a sense of honor alive in a place where honor is easy to destroy, all under the dangerous eye of the Luftwafe vetran Col. Wilhelm Visser. Never giving up the fight to win the war, McNamara is silently planning, waiting for his moment to strike back at the enemy. A murder in the camp gives him the chance to set a risky plan in motion. With a court martial to keep Visser and the Germans distracted, McNamara orchestrates a cunning scheme to escape and destroy a nearby munitions plant, enlisting the unwitting help of young Lt. Tommy Hart. Together with his men, McNamara uses a hero's resolve to carry out his mission, ultimately forced to weigh the value of his life against the good of his country. Written by Press kit

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Heroes Are Measured By What They Do. See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some strong war violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

15 February 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

En defensa del honor  »

Box Office

Budget:

$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$8,907,413 (USA) (15 February 2002)

Gross:

$1,229,194 (Japan) (11 October 2002)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Alfonso Cuarón was once on board to direct this film. However he stepped away from the director's chair and did Y Tu Mamá También (2001) instead. See more »

Goofs

Stalag IVa was a real prison camp, but in fact only held one American. The vast majority of the prisoners were Russians or Poles, with a few Frenchmen and Britons being interned there as well. See more »

Quotes

Col. Werner Visser: Strange thing about war wounds- the older you get, the less proud of them you become.
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Soundtracks

Idaho
Written by Charles F. Calhoun (as Jesse Stone)
Performed by Benny Goodman
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
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User Reviews

Not bad
11 August 2003 | by (Pennsylvania) – See all my reviews

This film is absorbing because you are kept guessing until the very end. Hart, the lead character, isn't exactly an angel; and the Nazi Kommandant conjures up a measure of sympathy, with other motives of characters such as Col. MacNamara (Willis) truly unclear until the end.

Thus, it's enough to keep you watching, although I wish I'd read the book first. Also, it's not an "action" film in the Schwarzenegger sense, but it is fast-paced and holds your attention, as the plot keeps twisting and turning.

Contrary to what others thought, I found HART'S WAR to be reasonably historically accurate. It's frequently pointed out that by late 1944 / early 1945, the Germans were reeling, desperate and disorganized, while HART'S WAR portrays them firmly in control. This is a fair criticism, but I would respond as follows:

1. HART'S WAR coincides with the Ardennes offensive (Battle of the Bulge), which was the last major German offensive of the war and which came perilously close to succeeding. Puffed up from that near-victory, not knowing (as we know today) that this was the last gasp of a dying reich and not a turning point towards victory, and now holding hundreds if not thousands of Allied POW's to boot, it's no surprise that the Germans are still confident of victory.

2. Also, HART'S WAR takes place in a short period of time (I would guess 2-3 weeks between Hart's capture and the end of the trial, which itself is only a week). The story does not drag into the spring of '45, at which point the Germans knew they were losing.

3. The Nazi Kommandant epitomizes this German confidence, yet because he was educated in the US, he has at least a measure of sympathy for his American prisoners and treats them with an equal measure of military courtesy, with a few exceptions. Other Kommandants during this time may not have been as "humane," but, because of his background, Visser's lack of brutality (again, with exceptions) is understandable.

Bruce Willis is clearly a supporting actor in this film, but I felt he had a strong and important role and was, arguably, the CENTRAL character while Colin Farrell is the LEADING character. However, Willis gets top billing for one simple reason -- TO SELL TICKETS. It worked for me, at least.


22 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Why were they treated so well? gshivers
Jonathon Brandis JeffTrel
How the heck didn't the German kill rest of POW involved in the plan? yajennifer
Second best movie ever! YoullNeverSeeMeAgain
movie=good, book=amazing! thered_be_no_balloon
Tommy's relationship with his father lschow310
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