(This post originally appeared in slightly different form on December 10, 2009.)
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for World War II movies, which is probably one reason I had so much fun writing the books in the Last Good War series a few years ago. DEFIANCE is definitely a World War II movie, but a bit different than most. It’s about a group of Belorussian Jews who take to the woods and hide when the Nazis come in and take over in 1939. A couple of brothers (played by Daniel Craig and Liev Schrieber) who are former smugglers put their criminal background to good use as they become the leaders of the group and turn it into a resistance unit to fight the Germans.
DEFIANCE is based on a true story (though I have no idea how historically accurate it really is) and is an old-fashioned and very good film. There’s a lot of action that’s staged and shot so that you can tell what’s going on, and there are also well-developed characters, a compelling story, and a very satisfying ending. I didn’t even come close to nodding off, which is a rarity for me when I watch a movie. Now, it is almost unrelentingly grim, which you’d expect from the subject matter, but there are a few small touches of humor here and there, as well as the occasional stand-up-and-cheer moment. Craig and Schrieber are good as the leads, but really the whole cast is excellent. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but turns out it’s a fine film.
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