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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.
Having grown tired of the typical action packed glorified war films (Pearl Harbor for example), I sought out more of a human interest story. I wanted something that delved past the cliché romances, battle wounds, and graphic violence we have become accustomed to. To me, Hart's War exemplified exactly what others have failed to do. It was an inside glimpse into the lives of a WW2 POW camp, but more so. It dealt with the struggle for power, respect, and honor in an unlikely situation. The stellar performances by Bruce Willis and Marcel Lures stole the show away from the title character, Lt. Hart (played well by Colin Farrel). There are times when you don't know who the token hero or villain is, just by the way that each commands their region. If you missed this movie in theaters (as I am guilty of), easiest way is to catch it is on pay per view - it's still going to be running for a while. Enjoy!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm so glad I didn't miss this one - ordered it on pay-per-view the other day. Not only does Bruce Willis give the performance of a lifetime, but I was able to be introduced to the talented Marcel Iures. He was phenomenal as the sometimes you like him, sometimes you hate him as the German Colonel of the POW camp. Both performances are intense and emotional. And it was interesting to see a movie delve into the issues of honor and respect within war times, racism, and the courtroom drama story line.
If you're looking for action in your war film skip this one. But if you don't mind an interesting drama about prejudice among Americans in a German POW camp, which although slow at times, leads to an interesting pay-off with a twist that (kinda) makes the whole thing worth it, then check it out. I especially enjoyed the subdued though "grizzled" looking Bruce Willis as Colonel McNamara and Marcel Iures as the camps' German commander.
For what it's worth, I appreciate the film medium interpretation of a
story, and not try to compare or expect how detail or more poignant the
book's descriptions were. Viewing a film, audio and visually taking in the
collaborative efforts of a film production is not the same as someone
reading a novel. Reading also depends on the environment that you're in:
while traveling with people around you, or being quietly by yourself.
Reading is very much one person's own interpretation - as one reads, one
conjure up the possible sight and sound in one's mind and imagination.
in a cinema viewing a movie, we are exercising our senses - visual and
- of what's presented on the screen. The experiences are uniquely
In HART"S WAR, Colin Farrell who portrayed Lt. Hart is very much front and centered, while Bruce Willis' role of Col. McNamara, his (humane) attributes are more subtle and from within - his aching insides from the years of war and isolation. There is the struggle/conflict of the war veteran vs. the clean cut affluent background of young Hart. We see Willis' McNamara's treatment with Farrell's Hart more evidently, but for McNamara himself, say the quiet scene where he visited the flyer in isolation waiting for trial - more imminent of death, we simply see him giving Lt. Scott a book; when Scott opens it, it's the New Testament. It is later while Hart's talking with Scott outside the trial room just before the closing arguments, that we learned the book was Scott's own, with a picture of him and wife and child kept within the Bible's pages. So off camera, we may gathered that McNamara must have silently gone through Scott's belongings and took that New Testament to Scott, with the understanding that Scott may find solace in seeing the family picture again and as most soldiers would, felt duty above all else.or would he? And Hart, representing Scott as his defending lawyer, would he let him? Such are the subtle layers to the storyline.
Director Gregory Hoblit's previous films were no simple Hollywood plots. They all require some mind stimulating thinking: 1996's "Primal Fear," the crime and lawyers film with Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and the fascinating debut 'hell' of a performance from Edward Norton; 1998's "Fallen", one devil of an intriguing storyline where Denzel Washington, along with Embeth Davidtz, tackling the many faces (Elias Koteas included) of the elusive Lucifer (music was by Tan Dun of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"; 2000's "Frequency" was the mind-twisting time-bending drama of son and father team, Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid. Here in HART'S WAR again, there are no simple answers to the questions raised: moral dilemma, military honors, ravage and trying times of war and being POWs - no escape of endurance tests. It's a well produced film with fine cinematography of stark snowy scenes from Alar Kivilo (who also did "Frequency" with director Hoblit); score to this war film was complemented (unexpectedly) by British composer Rachel Portman; and performances by a talented cast. I did see "Stalag 17" and "The Great Escape" again, but my sense is "Hart's War" stands on its own, it's not really a humor filled "17" not an action packed "Escape" movie, it's more of a humane story at its core, offering an aspect of life's outlook, military or not.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"When the most likable character in your film is an evil nazi, you've
got problems," one reviewer noted of this film. He was wrong.
Honestly some critics have been doing his for so long and so dourly that they find it impossible to appreciate a story for what it is. Hart's War is an engaging story about the battle for a man's soul, and is a story told exceptionally well.
Tommy Hart, played believably by Colin Farrell is forced to defend a black man, Lincoln Scott in a court martial after he is accused of killing Vic Bedford (another effortlessly emotive performance from Terrence Howard). Tommy finds himself caught in a chess game between Col McNamara (Bruce Willis) and Werner Visser (a remarkable performance from Marcel Lures) which turns into a battle for Hart's decency and in the end his life.
Some scenes fall flat, but it's not hard to look past them and see the bigger picture. As well as being a story about becoming, it is also a story of betrayal, friendship and respect, the type of movie that would have starred John Wayne or Charles Bronson in the McNamara role back in the day.
Shunned by critics and audiences upon its original release, but deserves reappraisal and a second look now.
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.
I don't know what y'all are complaining about: this is a good movie! It
fallen pray to mismarketing like so many good films before. Farrell is
(he'll be BIG soon, mark my words), Marcel Iures fills the screen with
presence and performance. Willis however, I must admit, play Willis. But
hey; I like him for what he is.
The plot is well thought out, intelligently blending the lines between the war- and the courtroom genre. Don't tell me you anticipated every twist in the plot.
For all it's worth; the movie was very different in a great way from all war movies in last couple of years. Different in quite a smart way, too.
I recently had the good fortune of seeing an advanced screening of Hart's
War. It took a good half hour for me to warm up to it but once the many
plots twists took hold, I was pretty well hooked. Collin Farrell displays a
good deal of screen charisma as Lt. Hart. Surprisingly, Bruce Willis is in
supporting role. Although the trailers I have seen would lead you to
The story takes some surprising turns and that is one of the strengths of the movie. I won't spoil it by giving away too much.
As a student of history, particularly World War Two, I have to say that I really enjoyed this movie, not just for the original story line but the mood cast by the photography and the music score.
I highly recommend Hart's War as an intelligent, entertaining movie.
8.5 out of 10
This film has its moments. But, to buy into it, you have to suspend any knowledge about WW2, Nazi POW stockades or likely situations. The action focuses on Willis as the brooding leading officer in a POW camp, Colin Farrell is the law student pressed into becoming a defender for a Black Pilot wrongly accused of murder. What transpires is a Machiavellian game with the Commandant, well played by Rumanian Actor, Marcel Iures, with plots and subplots, motifs and counterplots. But, it really does not go anywhere. There are some nice twists at the end but the ending before the final credits I found to be cheesy and unsatisfying (I've always found it irritating to switch to an ending narrative when there was none to introduce the story). Viewers who like Willis will not be disappointed and Colin Farrell is sure to delight the ladies with his Irish good looks, dark "little boy" eyes and expressions. Cole Hauser, back from getting eaten by an alien in Pitch Black, makes a wonderful sleazy villain but the rest of the cast seems to walk through their parts. Also, Look for Joe Spano from NYPD in a bit part in the opening, but don't expect a lot from the rest of the show.
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