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Hart's War (2002)

R  |   |  Drama, War  |  15 February 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 41,994 users   Metascore: 49/100
Reviews: 193 user | 111 critic | 32 from Metacritic.com

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


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


Heroes Are Measured By What They Do. See more »


Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

15 February 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

En defensa del honor  »

Box Office


$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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


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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of the movie's credited writers, Billy Ray, reports that he never read the novel, "Hart's War," which is the basis for the movie. In The Dialogue: An Interview with Screenwriter Billy Ray (2007), he calls this revelation a "painful admission." But, he explains, by the time he came on the project, the screenplay had been through so many drafts that what was in the book itself did not matter much for his job of getting the screenplay to work. Ray says that one of the movie's producers, David Foster "constantly" sent him excerpts from the novel, advising him to include those particular things in the movie. But he implies that he felt no need to include something simply because it came from the novel. He then makes a point of saying he "admires" the novel's author, John Katzenbach and his father, Nicholas Katzenbach, whose time as a World War II prisoner of war was the basis of the novel. Ray explains further that he worked from the existing drafts and from the large amount of World War II research he did for the project, especially relying on the writing of Stephen Ambrose. See more »


Col. McNamara wears a subdued arm patch of the Big Red One (First Infantry Division). Subdued service patches were not used by the Army until the 1960's. See more »


Col. Werner Visser: You know sometimes I think your Lieutenant Scott might have been better off in Alabama. Lynchings are over
[snaps fingers]
Col. Werner Visser: in minutes. The kind of justice he's suffering here is far crueler.
See more »


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User Reviews

Hart's War or McNamara's Band?
21 September 2003 | by (Longmont, Colorado) – See all my reviews

If one were to place too great an emphasis on many of the smug and self-serving views expressed by various contributors here, it may well appear somewhat of an enigma that HART'S WAR still rates 6.3 overall. Obviously many who have voted have not posted a review. Equally obviously, to offset its many detractors...a significant number of people must have liked it. I'm one of them!

Let us agree immediately, anyone looking for a sequel to THE GUNS OF NAVARONE can expect to be disappointed. A screen adaptation of John Katzenbach's excellent novel, this late WW2 flick tackles racism, POW life and honor...and not necessarily in that order. A re-hash of the plot is unnecessary as every second reviewer has covered this aspect. It is a film to LISTEN to and to take from it what you are able. Negative comments such that the events portrayed are "unlikely," that Bruce Willis isn't the "star," that "nothing happens except lots of people keep talking," are a sad indictment of viewers with a limited attention span. A lot of what is uttered during the "court-room" sequences has great relevance in all facets of life - IF you care to listen. Farrell is excellent as is Willis in what admittedly IS a far smaller role. Willis' presence however is felt throughout the movie in much the same way as was Jack Nicholson's in A FEW GOOD MEN. (Another military court room flick)

Yes its longish and it would be fair to say it is extremely dark for the greater part of the film. It is ultimately though a worthwhile addition to other POW films. You could do a lot worse.

87 of 115 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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