Edward Zwick's Defiance is based on the true life story of three Jewish brothers who escape Nazi-occupied Poland to the Belarussian forest during World War II. Forming a resistance, the Bielski brothers build and defend a woodland community for Jewish refugees. Daniel Craig stars as the leader of said community, Tuvia Bielski, with Liev Schreiber as his brother Zus Bielski.
I really wanted to enjoy this movie. When I first heard about I thought to myself, "A World War II flick with Daniel Craig starring as a Jewish Robin Hood? Awesome!" Now, I've been a huge fan of Daniel Craig since he starred in Matthew Vaughn's Layer Cake (which you should go rent if you haven't seen it). However, this film made me realize that his dramatic skills aren't as great as I had thought. He's an action star with above average acting talents starring in what should be more of a dramatic movie.
That's really where this film's shortcomings lie. I thought it was trapped in limbo somewhere between being a gripping WWII drama and an explosive action flick. The acting and script weren't as compelling as HBO's Band of Brothers. The action wasn't as gory, exciting or innovative as in Saving Private Ryan. Don't get me wrong though, these shortcomings exist but aren't glaringly obvious. The acting was by no means bad, nor were the action sequences boring. They just felt like they were oh so close to achieving something great, but kept falling a little short.
One of the few things I really liked in this film was the performance of Liev Schreiber. I've been a casual fan of Liev's work for awhile now, and I thought he was a lot of fun in this movie. His character was a little one-dimensional, being portrayed as the reckless 'wild man' out for revenge against the Nazis, but I found that the scenes I enjoyed most were the ones he was in. I can't wait to see him in his next role as Wolverine's nemesis Sabertooth in the upcoming X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
So did I think this was a great movie? Not really. There were just too many elements that weren't quite right. Was it a bad movie? No, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're a big fan of Daniel Craig or Liev Schreiber. Unfortunately, Defiance doesn't stand up to other films in the WWII genre and will ultimately turn out to have been a rather forgettable film.